By Rick Kennett
Sean O’Donnell and Michael Kelly, going together down that long, long trail a-winding, heard in the darkness ahead a wavering, tuneless voice singing, “Twas a beautiful day in May and Spring was in the weather when a wee leprechaun and dear Mother Machree in sweet harmony sung together *hic* … Ye gunna die! Ooooo ye gunna die!”
Sean and Michael had been discussing who’d been responsible for putting them in their present predicament, walking in the dark side by side. For the life of them however they couldn’t remember what had caused the jaunting-car to overturn, though they recalled the pony shying at something in the road as they’d entered Eringle Truath in County Monaghan for the St Patrick’s Day festivities. Not that it much mattered. It mattered even less when they heard that weird singing, slurred and uncertain, followed by that ghastly, keening shriek.
They stopped and stared into the dark ahead. What had caused the upsetting of the jaunting-car mattered not at all now when they beheld an indistinct figure emerge from out the blackness, nodding and swaying, the whole blurred in a soft goblin-glow. Advancing unsteadily it resolved into the form of a woman, slender, almost skeletal, her long straggly hair in wild disarray. Crying softly to herself and clad in a shroud spotted in soil and mould and blood she staggered towards them.
At once they recognized the dreadful woman as Ireland’s ancient harbinger of ill fortune and foreteller of death, the banshee.
She stumbled on, preceded by a miasma that was not the smell of death but of strong drink. She jabbed out a dagger-like finger at the startled two, all the while attempting to fix Sean and Michael with unfocused watery eyes behind half-mast lids.
"Ye gunna *hic* …dieeeeee! Ooooo! Ye gunna … er …. um … ye gunna … um …er … sumfing …"
"Die?" Sean suggested.
"Aye, die!" shrieked the banshee in full funeral glee, arms windmilling to retain a questionable balance. "Ye gunna die!" She stumbled sideways, legs entangling as she sang to herself, dreamily, dirge-like and badly out of tune. “Oh Danny Boy, the pints, the pints are callin’.” An arm thrust out, the dagger finger pointing. Upwards. Downwards. At herself. "Ye gunna *hic*... um ... thingy!"
"Would I be right in t’inking tis St Paddy’s blessed day you’ve been celebrating, missus?" asked Michael.
Unheeding but with knees bending and swivelling, she wobbled past into the consuming darkness beyond, shroud flapping in an unseemly manner. Arms flailing. Hair streaming. Intermittent soprano keening mixed with cries of "Ye gunna … Ye gunna …" growing fainter and fainter until with a wet belch it lapsed into abrupt silence somewhere in the black oblivion.
Michael turned his broken neck to look into Sean's bloodied face. "Did she foretell we’re going to die?"
Sean nodded. “Sure and in her state she’d be arsewise foretelling the winner of a one horse race, never mind our decease."
Ectoplasm drifting in their tracks, together they continued down that long, long trail a-winding.
About the Author
I'm a life-long resident of Melbourne, Australia, and until a few months ago worked in the transport industry. Now retired I live the life of an idler and a ne’er-do-well.
My SF and ghost stories have appeared in many magazines, podcasts and anthologies including two recently published, The Ghosts & Scholars Book of Follies and Grottoes and Damnation Games.
I have five books up on Amazon and I still live the life of an idler and a ne'er-do-well. However Cathavan Press in the UK will shortly be bringing out a new edition of "472 Cheyne Walk: Carnacki, the Untold Stories", originally published in 2002. This is a collection I wrote with UK author Chico Kidd, based on the Carnacki the Ghost-Finder stories of Edwardian writer William Hope Hodgson.