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

In this latest tale, a doctor's terrifying early morning visitor ...

OCTOBER may very well belong to the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, a time for apple-picking and cider-making, but from time immemorial this period of the natural sidereal year has always been associated with the dead and the occult.

The Anglo-Saxons called this month Winterfyllith – a period when the first full moon of what we would call October marked the start of winter.

Going further back, the Ancient Celts called this period Samhain, when the invisible but very real partition between this world and the next – which was there to keep out spirits and demons – became wafer-thin.

We just happen to celebrate Halloween at this time too, when the minds of most folk turn temporarily to thoughts of witches, ghosts, vampires, werewolves and so on.

Some very strange and uncanny things have been known to happen at this time of year.

Just a mention of one of these supernatural goings-on - the "Three Knocks of Death" - is enough to send a shiver up the spine of even the most ardent atheist, and I have noticed that the dreaded Knocks have often been heard by sceptics of the paranormal - as if something beyond this world periodically tries to erode the beliefs of us mortals.

We all have our beliefs - and the atheist is not exempt; he or she holds the passionate belief that there is no God, and that in itself is a belief without proof – a dogma – and these things that walk the darkness love to knock our doctrines.

I knew a militant atheist named Lloyd who lived in Rock Ferry some years back, and he claimed to be impervious to any belief in spirits and "the non-existent Devil" – but one October night he was dozing off in bed when he heard his mother, who was ill, screaming in the bedroom next to his own, and Lloyd went to see what the matter was.

"I saw a man in a black hooded cowl - like a monk!" his mother cried, "He was standing at the foot of the bed!" 

"You've had a nightmare, mum," Lloyd told his hysterical mother, but then mother and son heard three loud knocks on the bedstead, and Lloyd's mum cried out,

"The three knocks of death!" she explained how a warning of an impending death was sometimes given by three knocks. She died within the hour.

Lloyd still dismissed the three knocks as nonsense – although he could not explain what had made the raps on the bedstead.

In the following October, Lloyd was drinking in the Oyster Catcher pub in Leasowe at 10:30pm when he heard three loud knocks on the window.

He imagined it was a friend messing about and went outside immediately - to see no one there. Although Lloyd considered himself an unwavering atheist, he couldn’t help but think of the legend of the Three Knocks of Death.

That night when he got home, he received a call from his auntie telling him his father had died from a massive heart attack – at 10:30pm.

Should you hear the Three Knocks – reply immediately with a fourth knock – and you may cancel the omen.

One of the most frightening incidents that have been regularly reported to me always seems to occur in October, and this is the bizarre and sinister-looking entities that call at certain homes in the dead of night.

These night visitors are invariably clad in black, have grotesque faces and pointed ears – and they usually carry knives or daggers. A doctor of all people – a person who is certainly not prone to any form of belief in the supernatural – once received a call from two nocturnal figures at his Noctorum home on October 10, 1989.

The time was 3am and the doctor heard someone ring his doorbell. He hauled himself out of bed, went to the hallway, and peered through the peephole of the wide-angle door viewer. At first, the doctor thought he was looking at someone with a mask on.

It was an odd-looking man in black with a type of balaclava, and his face was of course distorted by the fish-eye lens of the wide angle viewer.

The doctor rubbed his eyes and looked again – the caller with the weird grinning face was holding a long-bladed knife, and to the left of the bizarre visitant the doctor saw another weird figure in black peeping round the corner.

"Who are you?" asked the doctor, "What do you want?"

The armed figure answered: "You have something that doesn't belong to you - a black coin that belongs to our master." 

"Get away from my door or I’ll have the police on you!" the physician warned the sinister callers.

"I’ve cut the telephone wires so you’ll be calling no one!’ the visitor replied and stabbed at the door with the dagger.

The doctor backed away down the hallway and into his bedroom where his wife was fast asleep.

He suddenly recalled a black 50p piece he had received in his change at the supermarket. He emptied the coins and notes of his wallet on the bedside table – and there was the black fifty pence piece.

He picked up the blackened coin and went to the front door. "If I give you the coin will you go away?" he asked and heard laughter beyond the door.

The letterbox opened and the doctor stooped to see a pair of the most terrifying dead-looking eyes he had ever seen looking in at him.

A hand somehow slid through the letterbox, and all the fingers were the same length. The doctor dropped the black coin in the weird-looking hand and it was withdrawn from the door.

He glanced through the door viewer - and saw no one.

He went to the window - there was no one on the street.

The doctor told his wife Jane what had happened at breakfast, and she said she'd heard of a superstition regarding blackened silver coins from her grandmother.

"Silver tarnishes when it comes into contact with sulphur," said Jane, "and sulphur is an element always associated with the infernal home of the Devil - Hell.

"It supposedly means the Devil has been handling a coin if its black and you're supposed to throw such a coin away or give it back to whoever gave you it." 

Tom Slemen’s Haunted Liverpool 34 is out now on Amazon