Off the Radio and Other Scary Stories

Voices from beyond.

Imaginary friends.

Unsettling sights.

New houses.

Dead dogs.

The scares go on and on.


Off the Radio

‘I haven’t seen this for years,’ Mum said. ‘I used to record music off the radio with it.’

We were in the attic. I didn’t know what it was. Mum saw I was confused.

‘It’s my old cassette player.’

Mum picked up something else from the tin. It was a small box with two wheels on it. There was some writing on it. Mum read it out loud.

‘Top of the Charts, May 1982.’

She showed me the player.

‘You push this button.’

A door in the top popped up.

‘You put the cassette inside.’

Mum pushed the small box into the slot. She put the lid down. There was a clear plastic window. There was also a row of buttons along the bottom. One said ‘Rec.’ Another said ‘Play.’ Mum pushed down the ‘Play’ button.’

I looked through the plastic window. The two wheels started turning. Mum was all excited. She was smiling. This made me excited too. I smiled at her. She hugged me.

‘This makes me feel like a teenager again.’

A wobbly voice came out of the recorder. It was strange and angry.

‘?eM dEbRUtsiD OuY evAH yHw .DLrOw eHT lLa 4 MrAH sI tNAw I Lla’

The Taylor Detective Agency and Other Scary Stories

Voices from beyond.

Imaginary friends.

Unsettling sights.

New houses.

Dead dogs.

The scares go on and on.

The Taylor Detective Agency

My name is Ellis. My friends and me are detectives. Olaf and Izzy and Windy. We are the Taylor Detective Agency. We all live on the same street and meet every day under the Waiting Tree in my garden. We do lots of detective things. These are the stories of our adventures.

It is Tuesday morning and there is no sunshine. I am sitting under the Waiting Tree waiting. We meet every morning in the summer holidays. We are a team. We work together well. That makes us better detectives. It was my Dad’s idea to form the agency to give me and him something to do. I carried the notepad and a pencil. He carried a camera and a telephone. We would walk around the streets near my house looking for clues. Once we found some pieces of pasta that must have fallen from a shopping bag. Dad said that was the Case of the Broken Spaghetti.

Another time we found a dead bird – Dad called it the Case of the Bird That Doesn’t Fly Anymore. I would write down any important details in my notebook and phone them through to Mum at home.

‘Mum, we have found a dead bird – D-E-A-D.’

I spelled out the word carefully so that she could write everything down.

‘We request permission to proceed with the investigation.’

‘Roger that,’ said Mum. ‘Permission to proceed.’

Olaf is my best friend. He lives next door and only has to climb over the garden wall to meet me under the Waiting Tree.

‘I think I saw something important today,’ he says. ‘I was looking out my window and I saw it.’

I get out my notepad and pencil.

‘Now begin at the beginning and tell me what you saw,’ I say.

‘It was Mister Birdfoot,’ says Olaf. ‘He had a big box that he put into the boot of his car.’

Mister Birdfoot lived next door to Olaf and all the kids in the street think he is a bit mad. He has bright red hair and lived alone. Mum said his wife had died recently. Just like my dad.

‘Why would Mister Birdfoot have a big box?’ asks Olaf. ‘What has he got inside it?’

I say I don’t know. Windy appears.

‘Hi Windy,’ we say. ‘Mister Birdfoot has got a big box and we are wondering what is in it.’

‘I don’t know,’ says Windy. ‘It sounds like a job for the Taylor Detective Agency.’

Windy thinks that we should sneak into Mr. Birdfoot’s house and take a look.

‘We should sneak into Mr. Birdfoot’s house and take a look.’

Olaf doesn’t like the idea of that. He thinks we might get caught.

‘I don’t like the idea of that. What if we get caught?’

‘Get caught doing what?’ asks Izzy who has just sat down next to me.

‘Sneaking into Mr. Birdfoot’s house,’ I say. ‘Olaf saw a big box and we think it is a mystery for us to solve.’

‘I hope so’ says Izzy. ‘I love us solving mysteries.’

‘I have a plan,’ says Windy. ‘We should all sit on the bench opposite Mr. Birdfoot’s house and wait to see what happens next.’

‘Follow me,’ says Olaf. ‘Don’t forget your notepad, Ellis.’

‘I have it here,’ I say, patting my small rucksack. ‘I’ve also got my pencil and a tape measure.’

‘Why a tape measure?’ asks Izzy.

‘Just in case,’ I say. ‘My dad always said you never know what you might need to know.’

It makes me happy to remember what my dad used to say. But it makes me sad that he’s not here anymore to say it.

‘I’ve got four apples,’ says Izzy. ‘One for each of us as always.’

‘I think that my bottle has some water left in it,’ says Windy. He shakes it to see. We all hear the slosh.

It was later. We had been waiting a long time. All the apples were gone. And the water. I felt a bit strange.

‘Maybe we shouldn’t be doing this.’

Olaf pointed at some bushes.

‘Would you feel better if we were hiding?’

‘Hiding,’ said Izzy. ‘I love hiding. Let’s do that.’

I looked at the bushes. They were big. It would be safe there.

‘Yes,’ I said. ‘Let’s hide in those bushes.’

‘We can still see Mr Birdfoot’s house,’ said Olaf, ‘but he won’t see us.’

It was more later when Mr Birdfoot finally came home. He stopped his car.

‘Ssssh!,’ said Olaf. He put his fingers to his lips.

Mr Birdfoot opened the boot of his car. He looked around. He didn’t want anyone to see him. We kept watching. I felt scared and safe together.

Mr Birdfoot got out the big box. It was really heavy. He looked around again. The box had all red stuff coming out of it. The red stuff fell on the pavement. Mr Birdfoot went inside his garage. When he came back he had a big brush and a bucket of water. He scrubbed the red stuff on the pavement until it went away.

It was the next day. Me and my friends sat under the Waiting Tree. Olaf and Izzy and Windy. We talked about Mr Birdfoot.

‘Who carries a box of red stuff around in their car?’ Olaf says.

‘I don’t know,’ said Izzy.

‘Me neither. I don’t understand.’

Windy had an idea.

‘I think this is definitely a job for the Taylor Detective Agency.’

‘Me too,’ said all of us.

At The Top of The Tall Tree and Other Scary Stories

Voices from beyond.

Imaginary friends.

Unsettling sights.

All this and more …

At The Top of The Tall Tree

The policeman said they found Dad standing right at the top of the tall tree in the field behind the supermarket. Right at the top. He was standing on a thin branch with his hands behind his back. It was night time and windy and the person that saw him said they called the police because it looked like he was about to jump. It took two fire engines to get him down. He had no clothes on when they put him in the ambulance. Mum didn’t understand. Neither did the policeman.

‘We have no idea how he got there, madam. The tree is far too tall to climb. It is as if he just appeared there.’

The policeman said that he would have to stay in hospital for a little while. They needed to conduct their investigation and Dad would have to be thoroughly evaluated before he was able to come home. The policeman saw that I looked upset.

‘Don’t worry, your Dad will soon be home. It was lucky for him that we found him when we did.’

A few days later we were able to visit Dad. He looked really normal. I saw there were straps on his wrists that were attached to the bed. Mum said it was for his own safety. Dad smiled when he saw me.

‘Hey, kid, thanks for coming.’

I didn’t know what to say. I just smiled. Mum sat on the chair by the bed. She held Dad’s hand.

‘Can you remember what happened?’

Dad smiled.

‘Of course I can, I can remember everything that happened.’

I sat down on the end of the bed. Dad smiled at me. I felt a bit better. He looked just like how Dad had always been. I tried not to look at the straps. Mum squeezed Dad’s hand. Dad kept talking.

‘I knew we needed some milk so I popped into the supermarket. I was walking past the magazines when I heard someone call my name. I turned around to see a baby in a pushchair. The baby’s mother was reading a newspaper. The baby said it was my turn to meet Them. It said that they were getting angry and I had to calm Them down.’

Dad spoke very slowly.

‘They aren’t the kind to wait for anything.’

I thought the whole thing sounded really weird. Dad just grinned.

‘The baby said it would be really bad for the world if I didn’t make them happy.’

Mum didn’t say anything. She didn’t look at me. Dad finished his story.

‘I asked the baby what to do and it told me not to worry. The baby said I would know when the time came.’

Dad stopped talking. He looked at me and Mum. He wasn’t grinning anymore. He looked worried. Very worried.

‘Has anyone asked the baby if I managed to make Them happy?’

The Boy Who Wasn’t Me And Other Scary Stories

Voices from beyond.

Imaginary friends.

Unsettling sights.

All this and more …

The Boy Who Wasn’t Me

I met a boy in the park. He said he was me. He had my clothes on. His hair was like my hair. He knew all the things about dinosaurs that I knew. The boy said that it was my turn to sleep in the park tonight. It was only fair. He said he had been here too long. I turned around. My mum was reading her book.

‘Don’t bother asking her,’ said the boy who wasn’t me. ‘She’ll only agree with me.’

‘But that’s not fair,’ I said. ‘She’s my mum, not yours. Why would she let you go home with her and leave me here? Why would she do that?’

The boy who wasn’t me smiled. He thought this was very funny.

‘How would I know?’ he said.

The boy who wasn’t me went home with my mum. I tried to stop them, but he wouldn’t let me. He stopped me from following them.

‘It’s my turn now. Leave us alone.’

Mum held the boy’s hand and they left the park. She didn’t look at me at all.

It was really cold that night.

There was no one else in the park.

I felt really sad and confused.

The park got busy in the morning. I saw loads of kids running around and having fun. I waited for Mum by the swings. She knew they were my favourite.

‘If I stand here,’ I said to myself,’ she’ll see it’s me and get rid of him. Then we’ll go home and I’ll tell her that I never want to come back to this park again. I’ll tell her all about the boy who wasn’t me. She’ll believe me. I know she will.’

It was really cold that night.

There was no one else in the park.

I felt really sad and confused.