I never really believed in ghosts when I was alive which is deeply ironic since I seem to have joined the legions of the dead and therefore should qualify for ghostly status. Or do I? Hmmm. Thinking about it, I wonder if you have to haunt somewhere to be a real ghost. In other words, just being dead doesn’t hack it. You have to hang out somewhere as well, which probably implies that you must have a reason to hang out in your chosen location.
I suppose that could apply to me. After all, I’m in Manchester Airport and I am definitely dead, but what is against it is that nobody can see me; or is even aware of me. I feel a bit thwarted about that. If I’m not a ghost, what am I doing here? I remember one Christmas when Evie and I and one or two admirers were huddled around a fire busily emptying a bottle of Champagne when somebody decided to ‘do’ the creepy ghost thing. We had switched all the main lights off and lit a few candles which threw flickering orange shadows around the walls. All very atmospheric, especially when you are full of booze with the prospect of sex a little later.
Anyway, the point I want to make is that somebody started talking about Ann Boleyn who reputedly haunts the Tower of London. Thinking about it now, that means she is still hanging out there after over 480 years!! That is an utterly horrifying prospect. Does that mean I am destined to spend hundreds of years in Terminal Three? A few hours are more than enough for most people.
Ghost or not, I think it all comes back to the reason I am here. I have no idea why Ann Boleyn is still wandering around the Tower after all this time, but I think I am beginning to understand something I had not appreciated at first. I feel drawn to this place. It is difficult to explain but I don’t think I will be able to leave until . . .what? And that is the clincher because I just don’t know.
The other thing I am also beginning to appreciate is that time is somehow different when you’re in spirit mode. That would explain why my watch doesn’t work; it isn’t electrical gremlins doing their bit to be annoying as I first thought. My watch is frozen at 10.45am and my mobile simply doesn’t work; I guess they don’t have the Internet in the spirit world. There’s something else as well; I have just discovered I can go anywhere by just thinking about it. No, sorry, that isn’t quite true; I must qualify it. It seems I can go anywhere providing it’s within the airport. I tried thinking about Sonny my lovely dog who will be missing me like crazy wondering why I have deserted him. And I also thought about Evie and Pam, but nothing happened. I closed my eyes and when I opened them, I was still stubbornly in Terminal Three.
Evie is no doubt thinking I am out on a bender somewhere doing disgusting things with a man I met in a pub when we were out the other night surrounded by admirers all determined to pour expensive booze down our throats and that I will re-appear at some point, all bleary-eyed, my face wreathed in guilt. If only . . .
So, for some reason I am stuck here. I am also aware of being strangely drawn to the top floor of the Terminal Three car park. I have no idea why. I think myself there and, not surprisingly I am greeted by cars awaiting the return of their owners who will no doubt be replete with Spanish sun tans and chronic indigestion after expensive airport booze and airline plastic food.
As I gaze over the apron with all its aircraft, more cars arrive disgorging excited people who are blissfully unaware of the nightmare that awaits them. I smile grimly. Soon, they will join the queue for the Promised Land and if they are really, really, lucky, they might even make their flight.
I have a strong feeling that something happened here in this car park and on this floor, but I have no idea what that might have been. There are no clues to help me either. Am I having to serve some sort of penance for something? Is that why I am here? If so, it would be really helpful if it could be spelled out so at least I would know why I’m being punished.
I stand there for a while surrounded by a sardonic silence. If I am expecting the thought to be rewarded by some sort of response, I am disappointed. There is no gent with a long white beard emerging from the heavens telling me in a stern voice what an evil bitch I have been. That, I could understand. That I could even agree with up to a point. That would at least have given me a reason for this shadow world I have been consigned to.
The other place I am drawn to is Gate 132 in Terminal Three. I have a strong feeling I was supposed to be meeting someone there, but I have no idea who that might have been. Yes, yes, I realise he or she will be long gone by now when I didn’t show up. I am just hoping it might somehow spark a memory and give me a reason for being here.
I get there instantly to see crowds milling around like an army of ants, some stopping to stare hopefully at one of the destination boards; others sitting resignedly in seats waiting, waiting, waiting.
And that is what airports are all about these days. Queues and waiting. I remember my dad telling me once how in the early 60s he turned up at Liverpool Airport to fly to Amsterdam. He arrived at the check-in desk, was allocated a seat, and given a boarding pass in minutes, was through to the gate and climbing aboard the plane, all in less than half an hour. The good old days when flying was civilised!
Gate 132 has a queue, of course, but at least these people have made the Promised Land and know they will be sitting in a plane in the not-too-distance future. Disappointingly, it all rings no bells for me. I still have no idea who I was supposed to meet.
I can imagine you may have a fairly low opinion of me from what you have read so far. You could be excused for thinking I have the morals of an alley cat, but it really wasn’t like that. Until about a year ago I led a fairly ordered life, busy working for TV and little time for liaisons. I only went out with Evie now and then and did not get involved in her wild ways as a player. I was content with my life. I had my own house left to me by my gran. I had my beloved dog Sonny who I took for long walks in the surrounding countryside. My sister Pam came round occasionally, and we would spend the evening chatting over a bottle of wine and a meal. I suppose you could call it middle-class mediocrity if you wanted to be scathing but frankly, I would not have cared.
Pam – or Pam Loughton to give her married name – is my younger sister by three years. She is married and has a couple of kids, both girls, who I adore. They are eight and nine and listen to my stories about life as a TV researcher and the stories I tell about the famous people I meet with wide-eyed fascination. I’m sure they tell all their friends about the exploits of their ‘Aunty Nicola.’
Pam is much more assertive than me, frighteningly so, sometimes. She is also disgustingly good looking with long blonde hair, large lustrous brown eyes and a figure that can stop conversations. You won’t be surprised when I tell you she was a fashion model in her twenties with an inflated ego which was not matched by the pay! She left that high-pressure world to work for a publisher where she met her husband, Ted. Before that, she played the field with a string of boyfriends, some sporting flash cars, flash jobs and flash smiles.
She was always our mother’s favourite whereas I spent many hours with my long-suffering dad who as an astronomer at Jodrell Bank, had the universe in his head! I would listen spellbound when he would explain about the planets and the great mysteries of galaxies, black holes, pulsars and all the wonders of the heavens. I was heartbroken when he died not so long ago. I know I will be meeting him again very soon.
All that changed when I met Alex Thompson at a party. He was amusing, witty, good-looking, and appeared to be a regular good guy. It did not take long for me to begin thinking that he might be THE ONE! Pam was not so sure, and Evie simply dismissed him as a witless tosser.
I actually began thinking I was falling in love with him and about a year ago he moved in with me. Sonny was not so sure about him at first and would eye him up suspiciously. In fact, I don’t really think they ever became buddies. As things turned out Sonny was right!
It did not take long for Alex to begin complaining whenever anyone came round. He would make visitors feel unwelcome, especially family like my mother and Pam. He hated Evie and there were rows every time I wanted to go out. He even attempted to persuade me to move jobs. He loathed me mixing with other people but outwardly he would tell people how much he adored me.
I knew it was controlling behaviour but thought if I ignored it, he would simply accept that I was not about to change just to please him. But it got worse which is when I began going out with Evie as a kind of rebellion.
That was the start of our ‘sessions’ which for all I know may be why I have ended up here at Terminal Three. At the moment though, I am no nearer to finding out.