WELCOME to Haunted Wirral, a feature series written by world-famous psychic researcher, Tom Slemen for the Globe.

In this latest tale, Ken has a spooky encounter at a petrol station ...

KEN saw the vacancy listed in the newspaper's job pages that July afternoon in 1996 as he sat in a Birkenhead café contemplating his future.

He read it again.

It underwhelmingly stated: 'Sales assistants required for petrol station in Birkenhead. 4 night shifts per week, 11pm to 7am. Total 32 hours at £3.30 per hour. Retail experience an advantage, training and uniform provided. Applicants must be numerate, smart and reliable. Call between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on...

Ken circled the vacancy with a short stubby biro from the betting shop and Kelly, who owned the café, asked, "What are you going for this time, Ken?" as she collected the little bowl he’d had his apple crumble and custard tart in.

"Filling station attendant," he said with a yawn.

Kelly gave a lip shrug and asked: "Did you hear anything about that other vacancy? The financial assistant one in the housing association?" 

"Oh, the one with the fourteen grand salary? Didn't have the data processing experience so they KB’d that one," said Ken.

He applied for the filling station job and got it.

He saw all human life on the very first shift ... quarrelsome drunks who’d been booted out of pub stay-behinds at one in the morning, Hackney drivers who expected to be allowed to have a natter and a brew in the locked-up shop area of the filling station (because the previous person who worked there had let them sit in there), insomniacs with hypochondria who wanted to tell Ken about their imaginary conditions, young drivers who filled up their run-arounds and did a runner without paying and spaced-out clubbers with the munchies who asked for every type of packaged sandwich, chocolate bar – and a flavoured prophylactic.

And then the eerie 'deadness' descended - a solid stillness in the wee small hours. 

It became so unbearable, Ken had to have a radio on.

He was no believer in the world of the supernatural, but had the unsettling feeling something was watching him.

It lurked beyond the fringes of the bright neon-lit forecourt, in the dismal orange dead light of the sodium lamps that surrounded the filling station.

Now and then, Ken thought he could see something moving beyond the plexiglass windows – shadowy, flitting figures.

On the third night he was crouching behind the counter at 2.10am, looking for a pound coin he’d dropped earlier when he heard a rap on the long plate window.

He got up quickly and saw a shaven-headed man of about 25 looking in at him. He wore a white tee shirt under a black leather jacket.

"Hiya mate," said Ken, "what can I get you?" 

"A bit of peace, hopefully," said the man in a sighing downhearted voice.

Another nocturnal barmpot, Ken immediately thought, and said, "Eh?" 

"If I give you our kid’s number would you call him and give him an urgent message from Andy?" asked the stranger, then smiled and added: "I'm Andy by the way." 

"Call him yourself;" answered Ken in a condescending manner. "You can use a phone can't you?" 

"Yeah, I can - a bit - but he hangs up," said Andy.

Ken shook his head and said: "Look, I’m busy here - Andy." 

Andy stood there gazing at Ken with an annoyed expression.

Ken turned around muttering profanities, then happened to look up at the black and white CCTV monitor – to see himself onscreen – but no Andy behind him.

Ken was relieved the "barmpot" had gone, but when he turned to look at the forecourt beyond the screen he jumped with fright because Andy was still there.

Ken quickly glanced up at the monitor and saw Andy was not on it.

"Yeah, that’s right," said Andy on the other side of the glass, "I'm one of them." 

A Hackney cab pulled into the forecourt, and suddenly, Andy was not there.

The cab driver came over singing the old Commodores hit, Nightshift: "Gonna be some sweet sounds, comin’ down, on the night shift!"

Ken was so scared by his encounter with the ghost he unlocked the door of the filling station and went out and said to the cabby, "Quiet tonight, isn’t it?" 

The cabby nodded and Ken asked him if he wanted a coffee.

"Thanks lad, that's good of ya!"

The Hackney driver followed him into the station, introduced himself as Jimbo and told Ken a long-winded story about two young women he was seeing at the same time.

The story was full of holes but Ken just needed company because of that ghost.

Another cabby turned up at 3am, and seeing Jimbo behind the screen asked, "Hey, why is that old reprobate allowed in there while I'm not?" 

Ken smiled and let the taxi driver, a man named Bobby, into the filling station too.

Around 3.20am, there was a lull in the conversation between the three men, and Ken said: "Hey, you won't believe this but earlier on, about ten past two, this fellah came up to the window and asked me to phone his brother.

"No word of a lie this, but he vanished into thin air - when you drove in," and Ken nodded to Jimbo, who said, "I didn't see anyone." 

"He said his name was Andy," said Ken, "and he stood there behind that glass but he wasn’t on the closed circuit telly up there. I’m serious." 

Bobby looked at his watch and said he’d better be getting off, and then Jimbo said: "I better hit the sack as well." 

The talk of the ghost had obviously spooked the cabbies.

As soon as they’d gone, the unnerving stillness surrounded Ken again and the telephone rang in the filling station.

It was Andy.

"I heard you telling on me. Anyway, listen, call our kid and tell him that Andy wants to be exhumed and cremated; being in a coffin is horrible.

"Here's his number – " 

Ken slammed down the phone, put a "closed” sign on the serving window and left the station for good.

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