All Hallows’ eve: lightning, thunder, rain showers and a newly restored fortress – the perfect setting for this spookiest of nights. They say that the veil between the worlds is thin at this time of year. Thin enough to reach out and touch – what? A solid wall, centuries-old, and beyond that, a vague notion of whispers, of shadows, of things that go bump in the night. The place is haunted, or so they say.
I could feel shivers up and down my back. But it was probably the wind. Yes, it was most certainly the wind. It tends to get a bit chilly at this time of year and an old, draughty fortress is not exactly conducive to feelings of warmth.
But it was Halloween, or Samhain as some call it, and the weather-scarred walls of the fort seemed to reverberate with their own strange energy. I lightly traced my fingers across the pitted stones, as I always do when a place has a story to tell. And this place, with foundations dating back to the thirteenth century, probably has more tales to recount than I could write down in a lifetime.
On any other day I would have been inclined to linger and coax a story or two out of those towering walls – walls that had withstood the Ottoman siege and the might of the Luftwaffe. But today was Samhain, lost souls might wander from that world to this and I was not quite sure that I wanted to hear, that I wanted to see …
Just for today, I would be content with the song of the wind, with long-silent cannons and the rusted bases of anti-aircraft guns. There was an odd normality about these things, a fleeting sense of security.
But the sky was darkening fast and, again, I felt a shiver run down my spine, a mysterious whisper in my ear. It was time to go; and as the heavy doors clanged shut behind me and the brooding ramparts rose like towers above my head, I knew that the fort behind my back was a keeper of secrets that would haunt my dreams for many winter nights to come.
Location: Fort St Angelo, Birgu, All Hallows Eve 2015