Screech sleuthing

Dear Spurtle,

Referring to 'Tracking down the Broughton screech' (Spurtle No. 331, August 2023, page 2), it is not clear what the unholy screech sounds like. But a few years ago, I exorcised a recurring screech for a neighbour.

The screech would make itself heard at all hours, with no pattern, but with a (reported/perceived) preference for 04:00. It would be at an imprecise frequency of around 1000 Hz, i.e. the approximate vocal range of an excited young child, with a rich timbre of fluctuating harmonics. It would last somewhere between 10 and 30 seconds, and then stop completely. No verbal content could be distinguished.

Closing doors and double-glazed windows made no difference. Earplugs were useless.

The matter was complicated by a language difference. Between myself and my neighbour, you must understand, not between myself and the screech – I pride myself on semi-fluent Screech. However, to add a dash of mystery sauce to the riddle, only the affected neighbour had ever heard said screech.

It's such a good word, screech.

The screech, when I found it, turned out to be not human. Nor indeed superhuman. Nor was the screech external to the building. It came from below the floor!

To be precise - the downstairs neighbours were early risers, and they would hang up a load of laundry shortly before leaving their flat. They had a pulley laundry rail, and being a rental flat, the pulley axles had become dry and slightly rusty.

The screechorcism involved a chalk circle, seven white candles, three Jerusalem artichokes ... and an arcane ritual with a can of WD40.

Good luck to Annandale Street.  :)

Mark von Delft

[EDITOR:—There have been developments. Full report in Issue 332 (September).