Strange things are afoot. Tales are emerging of a grim creature intent on frightening children and adults alike. So terrifying it would give a killer clown the willies.
Rumour has it he’s the result of an experiment that went horribly wrong. An ambiguous mix of chemistry and alchemy. One part stay-at-home dad, many parts don’t-make-me-get-a-job.
Some think it the stuff of urban legend. Others claim to have witnessed his devilment first hand. All know him as ‘The Penny Pincher’.
One victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, claims to have experienced his presence on numerous occasions.
Jeanette (not her proper name), takes up the story.
“It was early October. The temperature had dropped into single figures so I went to turn the heating on. Immediately it felt like I was being watched. As I turned to leave I felt a cold breath crawl across the back of my neck. It was terrifying. With the dark nights rolling in and only one of the six spotlights in our kitchen working, the room is mostly shadows, and it was from deep within this darkness that I heard a shuffling sound, followed by a low-pitched groan. Petrified, I ran to the door, and as I did so a sudden chill ran down my spine. It was really creepy. The only way I can describe it is like the minute my back was turned someone had turned the thermostat down. Right down.”
And this wasn’t the only run in she’s had with the Penny Pincher. A few days later she came downstairs in the middle of the night to get a drink.
“I saw him with my own eyes. There he was, hunched over the washing basket, sniffing socks!? Then he started throwing the kids t-shirts and jeans over his shoulder whilst emitting an unearthly noise; something between a grumble and a snort. I put it down to a bad dream and went back to bed, but when I woke the next day I found those same garments had somehow made their way back into the wardrobe, unwashed?”
And Jeanette’s children have also felt his presence.
“He’s not so much scary as annoying. Really annoying. When I’m watching TV, sometimes I go to make myself a drink and when I come back the TV’s been switched off. Things I’ve left charging get unplugged. And no sooner have I turned a light on than it immediately switches itself off! Mum says it’s the Penny Pincher but I’m not so sure.”
His brother chips in,
“Yeah, and we used to have big baths, now they’re barely a puddle! We used to have proper bubble bath too. You know, the stuff that makes real bubbles, like Mr Matey. Not any more. Not since the Penny Pincher arrived. Now, anything in the bathroom is apparently bubble bath.”
But he doesn’t only manifest himself in actions. He’s also become vocal.
Back to Jeanette,
“I mention I’m going to buy something from the shop and out of nowhere comes a shout of where to buy it and how much to pay. It’s like I’m being haunted by the ghost of price-comparison. Possessed by the terrifying tannoy of Aldi. The other day I asked the boys what they wanted for a snack. No sooner had they requested Soreen than out of the ether came an unearthly scream. POUNDLAND! FAMILY PACK! It’s unnerving. I’ve left shopping lists on the table and come back to find them scrawled all over in blood. Or maybe it’s red pen. Either way, I don’t care that Iceland are offering three-for-two on beans until Tuesday!”
But whilst many see him as a menace, others are more sympathetic. Some, myself included, see him as a tortured, albeit thrifty, soul. A harmless apparition in search of self-preservation. Well intentioned and misunderstood. Think Godzilla, only grumpier.
OK, so his scares may occasionally go a little too far. The experiment to see how cheap he could go on toilet paper being one such occasion, but in his defence, as soon as he heard the scream of,
“What the f*ck is this!”, from the bathroom he immediately went back to buying double-ply.
And the activities of the Penny Pincher have decreased significantly over recent days after Jeanette took to drastic measures.
“I was at my wits end so performed an impromptu exorcism. I wasn’t going to be intimidated, there’s only so many layers of clothes a person can wear. I’ll not go into too much detail other than to say it involved a lot of bad language and the threat of returning him to the shallow grave from whence he came. It seems to have worked. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still here, I can feel his presence, but he’s a lot more passive. There’s a warmth in the house we’ve not felt for weeks and lights remain on. There’s even a second light bulb in the kitchen. There’s still a lot of ghostly heavy sighs and exaggerated tuts but they’re easy enough to ignore. And if I do need to summon him for whatever reason, I know I can just turn the tumble dryer on.”