[Here are Kate's article and short story for the fifteenth issue (Christmas 1983).]
Here we are at Christmas again, so soon. Looks like a white one this year, with thermal underwear doing a booming trade.
Hopefully by now the video The Single File is readily available in the shops, and I hope those of you who have invested are pleased with the contents--I'd love to hear your comments.
As you will notice, we have a newcomer in this issue: Gray Levett, who has written us a Christmas article, and will be bringing us news in every issue from across the ocean in his Letter From America.
I met Gray a long time ago, when I went to stay at his house by the sea. He was very charming, and we talked of many interesting things. He was a perfect host, and we had a wonderful time. We've kept in touch over the years, through letters and calls, and since Gray moved out to America, his career has blossomed and grown, and now he is a very busy and sought-after man. But he still finds time to carefully research and compile his information and send it here to us, and I hope that you will feel as we do, that his material in our magazine is exciting and keeps us in touch with all the news, views and progress in America. [In fact, however, the readers--at least the American ones--did not find Mr. Levett's material very satisfactory. I was not the only American fan who wrote to this "American" correspondent to help him out and set him straight on some of his "facts", without ever receiving any acknowledgement or reply. Finally, after two more "Letters from America", Mr. Levett quietly dropped off the Newsletter writing staff, and he has not been heard from since 1984.]
I'm afraid there has been a delay with the boxed single set, and this will probably be released early next year now, rather than before Christmas. But as with the video, I hope the finished thing will dispel any disappointment from waiting. [Again, fans were not entirely pleased with this product, when it finally did arrive. There were numerous complaints about the poor quality of the re-pressings and their flimsy picture-sleeves. I, for one, have always admired the design of the box, even if some aspects of the product as a whole were disappointing.]
I hope you enjoy our Christmassy stories and games, and may all your Christmasses be white.
Lots of love,
It had been a good day, and as I tied the tree on to the roof it showered me in its green perfume. For just a moment it took me to that place where all my Christmas days meet as one; where there are reindeer and chimney pots and blazing fires. It hung in my head for an instant and then was gone as I checked the clock and made for the shops.
It was unusually quiet for an afternoon so near to Christmas. It had even snowed that morning, and the shop attendants seemed almost happy at their work. It felt like some kind of magic, wrapping everyone and everything up.
The ever-growing list was finally getting smaller--tick, tick, tick: the turkey, the pudding, the crackers. Tick, tick: a present for David, a present for Granddad.
With just five minutes to spare, I had finished the shopping and was wading back to the car through the snow. It really was quiet that night, and it had been dark for a good hour. I opened the car boot and wedged as much as possible into the already full space.
It was great to be in the car and on the way home. Everything looked so beautiful in the snow! It was like driving down a tunnel of trees to Narnia. I was in no hurry, and didn't feel like the radio--the snow and my thoughts were just right together. Not too fast, remember the driving conditions, ease off the accelerator, check the mirror (no-one around), nice and easy...
It was just as I started thinking about checking the tree on the roof that I got this feeling...this feeling that there was someone else in the car. I dismissed it--ridiculous, I'd have seen them. Check the mirror. There. Nothing. But what if he's lying down on the back seat and I can't see him?
I slowed right down, and twisted my head round. Nothing.
Check the mirror. It must be paranoia. I'm going just a little faster now. I know it's nothing, but it's just this feeling...
Then his face is right there, in between the two front seats:
"Look out, look out...Stop."
My eyes turned from his moving lips to the road, my foot already reacting on the brake. I skidded to a stop. After just a few seconds I had taken in that there was nothing in the road. Nothing in front, nothing behind...and no-one in the back of the car.
The thought of having to get out into the night--out of the car-- was more terrifying than staying in it, so I started up the motor, put my foot steadily on the accelerator and turned on the radio-- light music, nice and loud.
By the time I turned into the drive I was wondering if it had really happened at all. I was shaking, and hadn't checked my mirror once since I'd had to stop. I ran into the house. As soon as I saw David I released the tears.
I don't know if he believed me or not, and it didn't matter at the time. He acted like he did, that was all I needed. After all, I was seriously doubting it myself.
It was a week later, and we were all to go out for the evening. We arranged for our friends to pick us up on the way. It was Christmas Eve--the first time for years we'd left the house on that night. We were looking forward to the break, and once we were at the party we relaxed and enjoyed the rest from the rush. None of us really drank, but we ate as much as possible, working our way up the table--the food was delightful; and like perfect guests, as soon as we'd had our fill we left, in order to be in our homes to celebrate Christmas.
Since we'd arrived the weather had broken into a storm--heavy wind and rain. We piled into the car--our friends in the front, David and I in the back--and rolled toward home. After a while I realised what route we were now taking on the way to our house: past the shops...My eyes fixed on the road ahead. I felt uncomfortable --it was that same feeling--I would not panic--
We came to the spot where I had stopped that night, that figure shouting in my ear. We were travelling at a fair speed. Then there he was--standing in the road, waving his arms to and fro. He was right in front of us.
"Look out, look out...Stop."
The words came out as if they were not my own.
The car ground to a halt, all four of us staring ahead. Still held by my fear, the other three slowly turned their faces toward mine.
"God, what's the matter with you?" shouted David, his face pale.
"Didn't you see him?" I screamed.
I couldn't believe it--he must be joking.
"What did you see?" queried my two friends, now laughing a little as they shook off their fright.
"The man...in the road!" I gasped.
As I pushed open the back door and got out, I looked back-- nothing. I looked ahead of the car--nothing. I would not have this! I knew I had seen him this time--he was real. The car headlights--the light beams filled with rain--stopped dead about six feet from the car. After that, darkness. Maybe he had fallen down. He must have been further ahead than I had thought. My friends, now concerned by my worry, were sitting with knitted brows in the car.
"Please," I said, "move the car forward very slowly--I need the light on the road."
The light slowly moved across the tarmac. I waited for a shoe, a hand. Then the edge of the light hit a rough brown surface.
"There's something here!" I shouted. The light steadily moved forward and revealed the huge bough of a tree. It must have been a twenty-, thirty-footer, fallen in the storm. The car stopped. All four of us stood, fixed on the object.
"The speed we were going..." David said. "How did you see it? it?"
"I didn't," I answered. I hadn't seen it.
None of us could say anything--we were too shocked. We couldn't believe it. It had been close. So strange.
In the distance the clock struck the first chime of Christmas day.
And in the distance but coming towards us was the constant buzz of an engine. We'd all heard it. Something travelling fast: a motorbike, and now he's in view, he's coming straight towards us. He's not wearing a helmet, and with his hair pelted back by the rain, his face is white and stark in the night. His face is very like that man's--that man who was first shouting, then waving, is now coming straight for us.
"Look out, look out...Stop."
-- Kate Bush
KaTe's Newsletter Writings Table of Contents
©1990 Andy Marvick