Take One at Bedtime
by Jenny Twist
Margaret's Ghost is just one of a collection of short stories consisting mainly of horror and science fiction, ranging from a classic gothic tale – Jack Trevellyn – to the Wyndhamesque Victim of Fortune, and the modern Waiting for Daddy, with its spine-chilling twist.
There is also the occasional excursion into romance with A Castle in Spain and Jess's Girl.
But most of these tales take you to a place which is not quite as it seems.
It's bedtime now. Time to go upstairs. Time to take a look. Just one look.
WARNING: Do not exceed the stated dose.
What Am I Going To Do About Alice?
I don't know how I'm going to manage without Alice. We've been friends for as long as I can remember. We were best friends at school, we went to university together, studied together, went out with boys together, told each other everything. We became so in tune with each other that we would frequently speak in unison, which used to freak out some of our friends.
It's funny, because we are not at all alike. Alice is slim and blonde and waif-like and erratic—wildly enthusiastic one minute, cool as a cucumber the next. I am comfortably-built, dark and down-to-earth.
As it happened, Alice and I both stayed on in Oxford. She married the dashing Desmond and I married George.
Desmond is one of those academics who invented things in his garage and then made a business of it. He was a captain of industry and very wealthy before they were even married.
My George, on the other hand, finished his doctorate in my first year and was a fully-fledged don by the time we graduated. Not as rich as Desmond, but very successful in his field.
So we married opposites, as well. We both liked each other's partners, but I don't think either of us would have swapped. I would soon tire of Desmond's scintillating wit if I had to live with it on a daily basis, and Alice would be bored to tears with George's rather more subtle (and in my opinion much more entertaining) humour.
The thing about George is, he's safe. He is solid, dependable and trustworthy. I have suspected more than once that Des played the field, but George would never dream of such a thing.
We ended up living only a few streets away from each other, off the Banbury Road. We invited each other to dinner, went out together as a foursome, babysat for each other and generally acted as each other's mainstay. I don't think I can manage without Alice. She is my earth mother.
I almost wish I didn't know. If I had just gone straight home last Tuesday, instead of calling in on Alice, I never would have found out. But I can't change that, now. God, I wish I could. Just put the clock back and not go. Or, better still, put it back a few weeks and try to find out what was wrong. There must have been something wrong, surely, for him to go to bed with Alice. Alice, of all people. My best friend.