The Watch House
   by Robert Westall

There was a crash of broken glass from the billiard-room next door. Anne ran through unthinking . . . On the covered billiard-table, like an obscene billiard-ball, the skull from the glass case rocked upside down, to and fro. The glass of the case was shattered. All the broken glass lay on the floor; none inside the locked cabinet. Which could only mean . . . She looked up at the photograph of the Old Feller. It certainly wasn't his skull; his bones were as frail as a chicken's. Then she paused, cloth raised. In the oily yellow dust that gathers on any uncleaned glass had been written."ANNE HELP PLEASE". It hadn't been there before . . .

Anne's parents have split up and she's been dumped at Garmouth for the summer with old Prudie. The nearby Watch House, home of the Garmouth Volunteer Life Brigade, is full of junk: sad, useless souvenirs of a host of shipwrecks. Anne offers to help Prudie's brother Arthur clean up the place. It all seems harmless enough, but there is something disturbing about the Watch House. Perhaps it was those shattered figureheads with their sightless white eyes staring in the dusk, or the huge skull in the glass case. Strange lettering appears as Anne watches in terror. Big childish letters - and they are moving! Balls of fluff being pushed around like tiny mice. Inside a glass case that hadn't been opened for years. Then the skull mysteriously smashes its way through the glass, and the model lighthouse flashes erratically on and off. Just faulty wiring - or is it something more sinister? Can the Old Feller, the apparently harmless Watch House ghost, have anything to do with it? Anne somehow begins to feel the Watch House is watching her. . . . This chilling ghost story, by the author of The Machine Gunners, is set in modern Garmouth, but echoes a past in which huge sailing ships were pounded to smithereens on the Black Middens - and when the Watch House and its life-saving Brigade really stood for something. Today the Watch House is no more than a dreary relic, so why should restless memories move among its dusty cases and flutter the fading photographs, crying out for help against . . . what? Gradually Anne, with the help of her new-found friends Pat and Timothy, finds the answers but it takes much mystery, violence and horror before the ghosts are laid at last . . .

ISBN: 0 86391 053 X
228pp Hardback

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