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I used to read a lot of ghost short story collections when I was younger. One story has stuck with me and I'd like to be able to identify:

  1. the name and author of the story and
  2. Which collection it was featured in.

I probably read this story 15–20 years ago here in the UK. I'm pretty sure it wasn't in one of the Armada ghost books.

It is in a contemporary setting, the story centres around someone who has moved into a flat in a town house. The centre floor of this town-house is empty from what I remember, and they have to climb a few flights of stairs to get around their property.

The man who lives there starts hearing tuneful whistling and footsteps in the night coming from the stair way, gradually getting louder as if someone is climbing the stairs. Of course no-one is there.

He tells his friends about this, and one of his friends pretends to be the ghost on one occasion, whistling the same tune while coming up the stairs as a prank.

This friend who played the prank is later killed in a bike accident. The story ends with the main characters hearing the ghost whistling and goes to try to see it again. This time he can see the ghost, which turns out to be the friend who was killed, the same one who played the prank pretending to be the ghost earlier.

Well I hope that jogs someone's memory! I don't know why this story has stuck with me, but it'll be great to find it again.

  • Ok, I've added some about the ending. – Rob Dec 24 '14 at 12:57
  • This sounds like something by Charles de Lint, but I'm not familiar enough with his stories to pick it out or say for sure. – Radhil Feb 12 '15 at 19:58
  • Still looking for this! If if helps it was set in a UK town, maybe London – Rob Apr 4 '16 at 16:24
  • My google-fu is not strong enough; there's too many tales of whistling ghosts, both in collections and in real-life, and none of the ones I can get through match. My top three reruns are a Charleston NC doctor, somebodies share of images from a old Wales asylum, and completing the circle, this question. – Radhil Apr 4 '16 at 18:26
  • Thanks for trying, I've been trying to construct hopeful google searches for ages, and keep getting the M R James story. – Rob Apr 5 '16 at 8:26
4

The beginning sounds like Algernon Blackwood's The Kit Bag.

Here's the empty center floor:

He dined at his club and went on to Bloomsbury, where he occupied the top floor in one of those old, gaunt houses in which the rooms are large and lofty. The floor below his own was vacant and unfurnished, and below that were other lodgers whom he did not know.

Here's the noises in the night:

Once or twice, however, he caught himself wondering who it could have been wandering down below, for Mrs. Monks had not come up with letters, and the floor was empty and unfurnished. From time to time, moreover, he was almost certain he heard a soft tread of someone padding about over the bare boards—cautiously, stealthily, as silently as possible—and, further, that the sounds had been lately coming distinctly nearer.

The rest of The Kit Bag is very different from your description, though.

  • Thanks, I'm pretty sure this isn't it though. It was written in a much more modern style – Rob Dec 24 '14 at 14:37
  • Modern = contemporary, or modern = within the last 60 years? – Joe L. Dec 24 '14 at 14:40
  • Contemporary, as far as I can remember. I'm sure it was pretty much a present day setting – Rob Dec 27 '14 at 19:57

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