Hey there! I’m blogging twice in one day, which never happens, but what better way to finish 2016 than with a good old-fashioned livetweet post?
In keeping with an old British tradition, I livetweeted a ghost story on Christmas Eve, The Phantom Coach by Amelia B. Edwards. I know, I’d never heard of it either, but it made for a fun little read. Here’s the lowdown:
- the story kicks off with our first-person narrator prefacing something that apparently really happened to them twenty years ago.
- “I want nothing explained away. I desire no arguments. My mind on this subject is quite made up” – k, wow, gosh
- anyway, wind the clock back 20 years, and our narrator is on some desolate moor in northern England, having like the worst hunting day ever
- it’s the (ha) tail end of grouse season, so rather fittingly, he’s… erm, grousing about the lack of grouse to be found.
- anyway, Ye Olde Google Maps has completely failed this poor sod, so he’s stumbling about in the middle of a snowfall, looking for shelter.
- the snowfall graduates to a snowstorm, the specter of hypothermia rears its ugly head, & meanwhile the poor sod is on about his lovely wife.
- “We were very much in love, and, of course, very happy” – maybe rereading Lady Audley’s Secret so much lately has made me a cynic but lol.
- sure… uh, John. sure, John.
- “Death! I shuddered. How hard to die just now, when life lay all so bright before me!” – is everybody this extra when they have hypothermia?
- a wild old man with a lantern appears! John is saved!*
*probably not, given that this is a ghost story, but whatever
- good lord, according to Lantern Guy, John is literally so lost that he’s twelve miles from the nearest village and twenty from his home
- it’s times like this when I really see the merits of GPS tracking
- anyway, John invites himself into Lantern Guy’s house, which in any other circumstance would be rude af, and Lantern Guy’s like lol.
- “It ain’t o’ no use,” growled he. “He ‘ont let you in–not he.”
“We’ll see about that,” I replied, briskly. “Who is He?”
- (anybody else hearing drumbeats?)
- so they get to the house and there’s a dog and suddenly I’m distracted wow ANYWAY
- “the door was heavily studded with iron nails, like the door of a prison” – okay yeah I’m sure this is TOTALLY fine
- “my, what an assortment of nails you have on your front door, Grandma!”
“the better to hang Christmas lights on, my dear!”
- “In another minute he had turned the key and I had pushed past him into the house” – okay, rude
- did he just walk into a Walmart or
- regarding that bell:
“‘That’s for you,’ said my guide, with a malicious grin. ‘Yonder’s his room.'”
dun dun dunnnnnnnn
- “I crossed over, rapped somewhat loudly, and went in, without waiting for an invitation” – OKAY, RUDE. GOSH.
- watch, the Master will be Irish, and this whole story will be a metaphor for British colonization
- “‘Who are you?’ said he. ‘How came you here? What do you want?'” – k like I know this guy is old & white-haired but I’m picturing Edna Mode
- oh and our narrator finally gets a name! James Murray. cool.
- I can finally stop referring to him as either “John” or “poor sod” in my head
- the master: tf is this guy doing here
Lantern Guy (whose name is Jacob, apparently): dude don’t blame me, this guy barged in
- the master: no seriously tf are you doing here
James: trying not to die
the master: ……………………………fair
- “I placed my gun in a corner, drew a chair to the hearth, and examined my quarters at leisure” – wait when did the master give you quarters
- James. bruh. honeybruh. literally one line ago you said he “waved [you] to a seat.” you’re still in the same room.
- and yet you’re claiming this room as “your quarters”? jfc no wonder neither the master nor Jacob likes you
- I swear to everything if this doesn’t end up being a metaphor for colonization…
- an incomplete list of entitled male narrators in the books I’ve tweeted:
- “The whitewashed walls were in parts scrawled over with strange diagrams”
- “shelves crowded with philosophical instruments, the uses of many of which were unknown to me” – lmao I doubt they’re actually philosophical
- unless somebody’s invented a Platoboe and nobody thought to tell me
- or a Voltaireinet
- (if anyone wants to jump in here with philosophical instrument puns feel free)
- I need to stop
- BACK SORRY had to shred some things for my mom ANYWAY WHERE WERE WE
- oh right:
“a small organ, fantastically decorated with painted carvings of mediæval saints and devils”
Ghostbro would be over the moon
- idk “a long array of geological specimens, surgical preparations, crucibles, retorts, and jars of chemicals” doesn’t sound super cozy to me
- now James is staring at the master and making it weird, because of course he is
- “much of the ruggedness that characterises the head of Louis von Beethoven” – ok what the snot
- I’ve been googling away for like two minutes and I can’t find a single good reason why “Louis von Beethoven” is anything other than a typo
- “His master then closed his book, rose, and with more courtesy of manner than he had yet shown” – oh you’re a FINE one to talk about manners
- man, I gotta hand it to the master, I would have been way too petty to give this dude ham and eggs and only eat porridge for dinner myself
- turns out the master’s been basically a hermit for a solid 23 years and he wants James to tell him what’s up with the rest of the world
- like…….. I love the internet, you all know this, but rn the master is honestly
- the master is mostly interested in what new scientific discoveries have been made, and at this point I’m pretty sure he’s just Doc Brown
- (also, like. not that it’s actually relevant at this particular juncture, but what’s with him and Jacob. are they a thing.)
- ah yes and now he’s going on a Jekyll-like bender about how ghosts actually exist despite what science says about ’em. charming
- exactly one Venkmanesque rant later, it’s stopped snowing! cool! James is still a good twenty miles from home, though.
- ooooookay–here, at least, is the “coach” part of the titular “phantom coach.” the night mail coach.
- what do they say exactly–neither sleet nor wind nor… eh, whatever, it’s something like that.
- ahahaaaaa the master just volunteered Jacob as a tour guide for James, and Jacob’s like “dude really?”
- “A glass of usquebaugh before you start?”
I have no idea what that is but it sounds awful
- HUH now this is interesting
- and sure enough, my main squeeze
@MerriamWebster says it originated from the Irish “uisce beatha”
- oh my god yall if I was right about this Irish invasion metaphor after all I’m going to be over the MOON
- anyway, James drinks the usquebaugh, it’s sufficiently awful, and he and Jacob are on their not-so-merry way.
- “My thoughts were full of my late host” – if this is a pun, I swear…
- they reach the road James needs to take to get to the mail coach and Jacob is just like
- in what might be an attempt to make up for his truly terrible manners earlier, James gets out his wallet to pay Jacob for his trouble.
- and Jacob’s just like “on second thought lmao”
- oh goody, Jacob only loosened his tongue to tell James about a nasty fatal accident the night mail coach had nine years ago.
- that totally won’t come up later as a plot point or anything. totally.
- at any rate, James is now left to find the way to the night mail coach on his own, and he’s trying not to think of the master’s stories.
- “I ain’t afraid of no ghost” – James, probably
- an admirable sentiment, James, but you should definitely be afraid of hypothermia. which is setting in once more.
- so James looks back the way he came and sees a light… and then another light.
- sure enough, there’s the Dwolding Express, barrelling along. James manages to get it to stop for him, hops on, and off he goes.
- nobody on this coach takes James’s conversational bait and it’s a leeeetle bit awkward
- in news that should probably surprise no one at this point, the coach itself smells awful and looks held together with spit and prayers
- James, poor sod, still hasn’t realized there’s a very good reason this coach smells like death. I’ll give him a pass bc of the hypothermia.
- ooooop, the other passengers on this coach are quite literally giving him death glares, and now the penny has dropped.
- so I guess all these guys on this ol’ hellsmobile are………….. ghost riders?
- it’s going down
I’m yelling timber
- so like, obviously James lived to tell the tale, but the whole incident quite literally cracked his skull open a little
- don’t mind me, I’m just having wild theories that the master and Jacob are the ghosts of the two passengers who died later
- dag nabit, I just went back and counted the passengers on the hellsmobile. no cigar. that would have been diabolical af
- missed opportunity, Amelia B. Edwards, missed frelling opportunity
- anyway, James never told his wife any of that freaky business, the surgeon who patched him up thought he was off his rocker, the end.
- not kidding, that’s the end of the story.
- WHEW. anyway, it’s nearly 1 am here, so I think I’m going to turn in for the night. toodles, kiddos, and happy Hogswatch to all of you ❤
So that was fun, and I may or may not be rewriting the story in my head at the moment (honestly, the master and Jacob should have been secret ghosts or something). Stay tuned–I may be ringing in the new year in similar fashion… 🙂 Till then, though: