ACCORDING to the meteorological experts we are still in autumn, but Mother Nature goes by her own calendar and not by inaccurate forecasts of the Met Office’s weather computers.

As the days shorten and the nights lengthen, temperatures are steadily dropping.

Against this gloomy backdrop of approaching winter is an atmosphere that seems conducive to the manifestation of ghosts, for there is something about this time of year when the human mind turns to the subject of the supernatural.

In the hushed stillness of winter's embrace, one cannot help but draw parallels between the biting cold that permeates the air and the chilling inevitability of the cold sunless grave.

Subconsciously, perhaps, we associate the frosts and snow with the icy touch of mortality that awaits us all.

In mid-November 1969 the snows came early in Northern England, North Wales, Wirral and Scotland, and a couple in their thirties named Jean and Peter, travelled almost four miles from Neston to the Fox and Hounds pub in Barnston, where Peter was supposed to meet an old friend named Roger, but Roger didn’t show for some reason.

At this time, the licensee of the Fox and Hounds was 52-year-old Eric Pepper, and at 10pm he tactfully advised the couple to leave early for the return journey to Neston because the snows outside seemed to be worsening by the minute.

Peter said he’d wait a little longer to see if Roger turned up and assured the publican his trusty old Morris Minor would get him and his wife Jean safely back home.

Jean sat there in front of the blazing log fire in the pub, stuffing her face with crisps and sipping lager and limes until Peter said it looked as if Roger wasn’t going to show up.

Peter had only had two half-pints all night and believed he was well under the limit.

One of the locals had brought a plate of corned beef sandwiches into the pub and Peter said it was “well-known fact that food absorbs alcohol”.

The couple later left the Fox and Hounds, stepping into deep snow outside the pub, and Peter got in the Morris Minor with his shivering wife and had trouble starting the car at first.

The car moved off with its windscreen wipers squeaking as they rhythmically did their best to keep the crystalline flakes of snow at bay. Jean reached over her seat and from the back seat she grabbed a tartan blanket her ‘nesh’ daughter Deborah had been swathed in earlier that day.

Jean wrapped the blanket around her and said she should have had a few more rums before leaving.

The Morris Minor had covered about 300 yards when the engine made a weird sound and died. ‘Come on!’ Peter growled, trying to restart the engine but the engine sounded as if it had a bad cough.

"Don't tell me we’re gonna be stranded; we’ll freeze to death," started Jean.

Peter said, "Don’t start jinxing things, Jean. It’s just because of the cold. I’ll just let it rest a minute and try again"’

Someone rapped on the window next to Jean and she let out a yelp.

It was an old man Peter knew, a regular at the Fox and Hounds known as old George. Peter leaned over his wife and rolled down the window to see what George wanted.

"I’ve just had a lift up Barnston Road," said George, pointing down the road, "and it’s like the Himalayas down there – big snow drifts. You’re better going another way if you can," the old man advised, and then he said goodnight and headed towards his little cottage in the distance.

"Like the Himalayas," said Peter, imitating George’s way of speaking, "he doesn’t half exaggerate, the silly old duffer."

"He said you should go home another way," Jean recalled, her teeth chattering. 

Her husband shook his head and said, "How can I go home another way? The only bleedin' way we can go is down Barnston Road; there are no other roads unless we turn around and go miles out the way to get to Gills Lane and go home via Pensby Road!"

"Alright, Peter!" shouted Jean, "Keep your hair on! I was just saying what old George suggested."

Peter tried the engine again and again until it burst into life. "God! At last!" Peter said and the Morris Minor moved off and Jean delicately said she needed to powder her nose.

"You should have went before we left the pub, I did tell you;" said Peter, "I can’t stop this thing now – it mightn’t start again."

"Who’s that?" Jean thinned her eyes at something beyond the snow-flecked windscreen – it looked like a man standing in the middle of the deserted road about sixty feet away.

Peter gradually saw him, standing there motionless. "It’s some idiot – probably a drunk – he better get out the way; I can’t stop in case the engine conks out again."

"He’s not moving out the way," observed Jean, and she leaned over and beeped the horn of the car.

The headlamps of the vehicle revealed the man had no face – just something grey with strands hanging from his head, and this scared Jean into silence.

"What the hell is that?" Peter asked, and as he slowed down the engine rumbled and died. "Oh great! The engine’s gone again!" yelled Peter.

"He’s coming towards us!" shouted Jean, startling her husband as he turned the key in the ignition.

Peter looked up and saw the man without a face hurrying towards the car.

He was over six feet in height.

Jean screamed and Peter told her to shut up and to calm down and in pure desperation he tried to start the engine. Within seconds the frightening figure had reached the Morris Minor and it reached out with massive greyish hands and placed them on the bonnet of the vehicle – and then, in an immense show of strength the sinister figure pushed the car backwards and Jean’s screams were deafening.

Peter tried to brake the car but the vehicle turned and was pushed off the road into a ditch. Peter tried to restart the car but the engine would not respond.

Peter and Jean got out of the vehicle and ran across a snow-covered field, and that macabre looking man chased them. The snow was so deep in the field it almost came up to Jean’s knees. The couple fled across the snowy wastes and their unearthly pursuer showed no signs of slowing down.

At one point, an exhausted Peter fell to his knees in the snow, gasping for breath, and the giant faceless stalker was closing in.

Jean pulled Peter to his feet and he staggered away, and by then the couple had no idea where they were going for they had lost all sense of direction in the Limbo of snow.

Peter clutched at his chest and gasped to his wife, who could hardly see with the tears in her eyes, "You go on, Jean, I can’t go any further."

"No! Keep going, Peter!" she cried, dragging him across the field, the feet of the couple crunching through the mantle of frozen snow. And then Jean said, "He’s going back, look!"

The faceless fiend was now a dim shadowy figure going in the opposite direction through the blizzard.

Jean and Peter reached Whitehouse Lane, where surreal snowdrifts reached to the roof of a house.

The couple had to excavate a passage through the snow to get to the door, and Jean hammered on the knocker.

An elderly couple answered and brought them inside.

Jean looked in the mirror in the hallway and saw her face was red raw. She was given warm water laced with scotch.

They found the Morris Minor where the couple had abandoned it – overturned. Just what that entity without the face was remains a mystery to this day.

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