This is a grisly tale, told from two different sources; a man who worked at the Geemanco factory that once existed on Barlow’s Lane, Fazakerley in the 1960s – and a Ouija board. Before I begin, just let me issue a warning to the idly curious about misusing the Ouija. I have seen lives wrecked by the upturned glass and even a suicide, and so I must dissuade people from playing about with forces they probably don’t even comprehend or respect. There is a zone between this world and others, which can give people an access to the abyss of the unknown. This area is referred to in most of the world’s religions and cultures, from Taoist teachings to Christianity, and even in the Upanishads, the area between worlds is said to be timeless, with past and future existing as one in it. The Zulus call the same zone the ‘gate of distance’ where spirit meets matter, and the tribes of Gabon have called the same dangerous region the Ngwel. In this Limbo zone between the worlds, things – spirits of the dead - can become trapped and remain in a timewarp where they re-enact what they did on earth in their final moments and never move on. And this may be the case with the entity known as ‘Bloody Mary’.
In early 1996 I was observing a Ouija board session in South Liverpool, close to Aigburth cricket club. Five people held their forefingers on the base of an upturned wine glass, and that glass kept moving about, nudging the paper squares bearing letters and numbers as it spelt out a specific female name. The surname was very unusual and stuck in my mind. I scribbled the full name down together with other fragmentary messages the ‘communicating spirit’ dictated, with my usual unbiased attitude. The spirit claimed to be a girl who was caught between this world and the next after being struck on the head in a factory in Fazakerley in the 1930s.
I decided to research the story and a week later I was tracing people who had worked at the factory. I met a man named John who had worked at the factory in question in the 1960s. At that time it was called Geemanco and it was a printing works. John recalled that when he started at the factory, the guards seemed afraid to go near an old storeroom after dark, referring to an apparition they nicknamed ‘Bloody Mary’. John was curious about the nickname and asked why they called the ghost by that name. An old guard replied, “Oh you’ll see lad, you’ll see”.
About a fortnight later, John was working on the night shift and could not help noticing that his workmates and manager were becoming increasingly uneasy as the night closed in. John needed to go the old, poorly-lit storeroom at about 1am tofetch a cartoon of foolscap paper – and there she was; a young woman, with a chalk-white face and blonde hair, standing there in clothes that belonged to the 1930s. Her blonde hair was soaked and matted with vividly red blood and what must have been brain matter. There were also scarlet streaks down her face and neck, and blood dripping from her nose. Her eyes rolled upwards so the eyeballs almost appeared blank, and her mouth quivered. John still recalls the paralysis which gripped his legs.
“They just went to jelly and I seemed to turn away from the ghost in slow motion. All I could say was ‘No!’ She was about ten feet away from me.”
John finally regained control of his legs and described how he sped out if that storeroom. The manager and his workmates calmed him down and reassured him that the storeroom was empty but he noticed that none of those present would volunteer to go down to the said storeroom to switch the light off. For weeks after the encounter, John experienced terrible recurring nightmares about the ghastly-looking ghost, and he often woke in the dead of night in a cold sweat, expecting to see Bloody Mary leaning over him with her shattered egg-shell skull. When I told John about the girl’s name coming through on the Ouija, John poured himself a large neat Scotch with a trembling hand and gulped it down in one go. He had given up cigarettes for six months, but was suddenly rifling through his wife’s handbag for her packet of Embassy Regal. I went on to tell him that, back in the 1930s a girl had been killed in that storeroom where the apparition had appeared. She had been a factory worker, operating a large machine with an enormous eight-foot-long metal lever. This lever had developed a mechanical fault in its sping and one day it came crashing down without warning, and instead of stopping in its usual position, it smashed into the girl’s head. One witness, a 22-year-old workmate of the unfortunate girl, graphically described how the heavy metal lever had smashed in the skull of the girl as if it were an eggshell. Amazing the girl did not drop dead on the spot but staggered around for ten minutes in a type of cataleptic trance. Blood was spurting out the arteries of her exposed brain and the eyes of the girl were rolling about. The poor girl was unable to speak and presented a gruesome spectacle to her horrified workmates as she walked about like a zombie, grabbing hold of them without a spark of intelligence.
A priest and a psychic were sent to the factory after talking to me, and they said they had managed to induce the troubled spirit of the girl to move on from the place of her traumatic death, to what we could call the ‘other side’. As far as I know, the terrifying ghost of Bloody Mary has not been seen since.