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

In this latest story, Tom tells the haunting tale of the thing in the clock...

Some of the names have been changed in this strange story to preserve anonymity.

In January 1978, 49-year-old Ken Wheeler received redundancy payment when he lost his job upon the closure of the Clyde Iron Works in Scotland.

He moved back to his native Wirral and rented a house on Birkenhead’s Bidston Avenue.

With his modicum of newfound wealth he started to drink heavily, often whilst ruefully reflecting on that messy divorce from Rhona a few years back; a split caused by drunken behaviour that had led to domestic violence; he hadn’t laid a finger on Rhona but he did smash a few TVs and break up a lot of furniture and plates during the rows.

By the end of January, Ken seemed to have the drinking under control, and he set himself a goal in an effort to deal with the cold turkey – writing.

He’d always harboured a secret ambition to be a novelist, so he bought a simple manual typewriter, a desk and bookshelves which he filled with all sorts of tomes, dictionaries and a set of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Ken purchased an old brass face grandfather clock from an antiques shop for £100 and a transistor radio to keep him company in his study during the long hours of the night. But what would be the subject of his novel?

He pondered upon all sorts of possibilities, but decided to write what he knew about – a man with a drink problem working at the furnaces of a Scottish iron works, set in the early 1970s.

Just writing the first paragraph of the autobiographical work was harder than Ken had anticipated, and every time he struggled to find the words he went down to the kitchen, took the bottle of Bells from the cupboard before his shaking hands put it back.

On 13 February a minute before midnight, Ken read back the first typed paragraph, swore, pulled the page from the typewriter and crumpled it.

What had the author of that book on Teach Yourself Writing advised when faced with writer’s block? Ken recalled the advice: just type anything.

He heard the DJ on the radio mention it was now Valentine’s Day, so Ken decided to write a poem about love.

Making words rhyme was just as hard as producing a well-written paragraph. He gave up just before one, cursed the typewriter and yelled, "Why aren’t the keys ABCDEFG instead of QWERTY! Ridiculous!"

The grandfather clock struck one – and the case door in the clock opened by itself, startling Ken. It was black inside the clock – no sign of the pendulum or weights. And what was that sweet smell? It reminded the budding writer of lavender.

"Ken," said an echoing soft female voice from within the grandfather clock, "I love you."

Ken swore loud, jumped up out his chair and looked at the half open door. "Who’s that?"

"Vanessa," said the velvet voice, "I’m a ghost. Happy Valentine’s Day."

"I don’t believe in ghosts!" said Ken, and he looked about, thinking someone was hoaxing him. There was a clunk, and he noticed the door in the clock had closed. He went straight downstairs and grabbed the Bells.

He believed the shock he’d received justified a stiff drink – and another.

He fell into his bed at four and had a vivid dream a woman was making love to him, and when he stumbled into the toilet at 11am, he saw in the mirror that he had love bites all over his neck and shoulders – and recalled the erotic dream.

At 10pm he sipped a scotch and lemonade and started to write in his study again, and at 1am the clock struck one – and that door opened in the long case clock. The voice he’d heard last night said: "I’m sorry for last night, Ken; I shouldn’t have made love to you."

Ken went cold – it hadn’t been a dream and those really were hickeys on him! "Show yourself, Vanessa!" he said. He felt brave because of the whiskey.

"I can’t, you’ll be frightened," said “Vanessa” with a tinge of sadness in her voice. "People judge me by my appearance."

"You could be someone pulling my leg for all I know," said Ken to the clock, "so show yourself and I won’t judge you."

"If you’re frightened when you see me I may kill you," the voice replied, "I don’t look much but I have a heart of gold."

"You’ll kill me, eh? Not very romantic is it?" remarked Ken, swigging from the bottle.

The thing that emerged from that clock was not at all feminine or even human; it looked like the long skull of a horse with red domed eyes, rows of fangs, slithering snakelike limbs, and a segmented torso resembling a bony spine.

Ken backed away so violently he knocked over the desk and the typewriter and bottle of whiskey crashed to the ground.

The thing shrieked and leaped towards Ken on legs identical in shape to a grasshopper’s, but he threw himself at the door, yanked it open, and ran downstairs and out of the building. When he returned with a neighbour, he found the clock smashed up.

They said the creature was the product of the DTs, hallucinated by Ken’s fevered mind, and after suffering horrific nightmares about Vanessa he was hospitalised and ended his days on a psychiatric ward.

The man at the Antiques shop who sold that grandfather clock to Ken seemed to know something about its history but seemed afraid to even speak about it...

All of Tom Slemen's books are available on Amazon.