- Amy Beckett Says… – M&J: #104 (8 May 1993) – #112 (10 July 1993)
- Artist: Guy Peeters
After a bulldozer accidentally knocks against the the old entrance archway of the school, friends Fay Davis and Karen Green, notice some strange things happening. Fay feels an eerie chill when passing the entrance way and then some younger school kids start singing a skipping rhyme “Amy Beckett, now she’s free says come on girls and dance with me!”. A prefect, Jane, clears the young girls for making too much noise, later that day their skipping song changes to “Amy Beckett sees it all. Watch out when the oak leaves fall!”. Fay and Karen don’t think the words make much sense as all the Autumn leaves have already fallen. Then Jane has a lucky escape when Fay saves her from a falling stone. Jane is clearly shaken, but the girls reason that it most have come loose when the bulldozer knocked against it. Fay notices a pattern of oak leaves on the stone, they put it down to a strange coincidence, though they don’t hear the girls now singing “Amy Beckett see it all and she KNEW the leaves would fall!”
The next day after a workman tells the skipping girls to move out of the way, the rhyme changes again, referencing the classic ‘ring-a-ring o’ roses’ nursery song. Fay, who still thinks something strange is going on, is worried when the workmen are planting a rose garden, that the rhyme is referencing it but is temporarily placated when nothing bad happens. She later realises when a builder sneezes and causes some bricks from a pulley to fall down injuring a workman, that she was right something bad would happen just not right in what the song referenced. Karen has also come around to the idea that the girls singing is a threat. Fay and Karen decide to talk to one the young girls they know, Annie, but she claims she doesn’t know any skipping rhymes. Karen theorises the girls are in some kind of trance while singing and don’t remember anything. But their questions have made them targets, the skipping girls surround them singing them to sleep and in their dreams the ghost of Amy Beckett appears warning them not to interfere.
The girls are not deterred and decide to find out who Amy Beckett was, but when they try to look things up in the library, the reference cards start flying everywhere. They do manage to get a lead on some local history books that may be of use and the librarian tells them they are out on loan to an ex-teacher of their school. The skipping girls are keeping a watch on Fay and Karen, and when they try to go to Mrs Wilkins the next day, they are surrounded by fog, eventually they get to her house. Mrs Wilkins says she is writing a book about the school and shows them her notes, but the notes just repeat the same rhyme “Amy Beckett, now she’s free says come on girls and dance with me!”. Then her granddaughter arrives it is one of the skipping girls, they find themselves surrounded as they sing “Amy says What is the fuss? Mrs Wilkins is with us!”. As the girls get away from the house, they have some luck when they find the history books in the rubbish bin outside.
At a cafe, when reading though the books Fay comes across a story about a tragedy at the school, but then it appears the book goes on fire. She douses it in water, but Karen didn’t see any flames. The cafe owner accuses them of vandalism and says she will return the books to library herself. We start to get hints of what could of happened to Amy, through the illusions and new rhymes. The girls sing “Everybody in this town says Amy Beckett burns things down!” then at the school the girls see flames they can’t be sure if its another illusion and sound the fire alarm. Annie has set them up to be caught by a teacher as there isn’t a fire. They are given detention to write ten thousand lines saying “Amy Beckett never was bad. But no-one believes her isn’t that sad?”. The lines are magically done, and they are told to give the sheets around the town. Mrs Wilkins is upset by the sheets, claiming it is all lies.More illusions show a newspaper saying “Amy Beckett is innocent” and fire caused by other girl before changing back to normal headline. We are given more information when the skipping girls new rhyme is “Amy didn’t start the fire – Enid Armstrong is the liar”
Determined to get to the truth, Karen asks her dad who works for local newspaper if they can look at their records. While driving to office, Amy Beckett beckons Mrs Wilkins to step out in front of car, luckily Mr Green stops just in time, he takes Mrs Wilkins home while Fay and Karen go on to the office. While they aren’t having luck finding information on fire, Karen finds an interesting wedding notice for local teacher Enid Armstrong marrying Ken Willkins. The girls figure out through what they heard in the rhymes and what they saw on the fake newspaper that Mrs Wilkins was responsible for the fire and now Amy is out for revenge. The girls track down Mrs Wilkins but Amy has got to her first, hypnotising her and leading her to top of the school roof. Amy is about to get Mrs Wilkins to walk off the roof, but at last second has a change of mind and stops her and lets her go free. Mrs Wilkins confesses to starting the fire and blaming Amy who had died saving her. With the truth out the new school extension is named after Amy, to honour her and her ghost can now be at peace.
This was an effective creepy ghost story, the young girls skipping chant makes for an unsettling atmosphere, that sticks in your mind. While the story starts off, with Amy Beckett seeming to have no purpose but to cause trouble, later we find out more about her tragedy. As a ghost she seems quite conflicted, she wants revenge on Mrs Wilkins and wants to stop the girls investigating, but she also wants the truth to be known. At first she is an angry spirit, causing potentially deadly accidents to the prefect and workman for trying to stop the skipping girls, but she just warns off Fay and Karen and later only tries to cause the true fire culprit, Mrs Wilkins, harm. She tries to stop Fay and Karen in their research but then also starts to show them what happened by the false newspaper headline and tries to spread the truth by getting them to pass out papers saying she wasn’t bad. She comes close to taking full revenge on Mrs Wilkins, but as we know in life Amy was a heroic person, it seems as a ghost she still has some of those qualities in her and can’t bring herself to go through with it. Which is good as she finds the truth is what sets her free not revenge.
While the girls own investigations are often disrupted like in the library and cafe, their biggest clues come from the rhymes and illusions that Amy shows them. It’s interesting that the biggest revelation they find themselves is not about a fire but a wedding notice. I thought that was a nice twist, rather than finding an article detailing a fire that we could figure out from what had happened from what been shown in the story but instead tying the importance of Mrs Wilkins to Amy’s revenge plot. Up to this point Mrs Wilkins could have just been targeted just because she was writing a book about the school, but we learn it is much worse. She started the fire, although we are not given a reason or whether it was on purpose or an accident, Mrs Wilkins was worried about getting in trouble and then blamed the girl who had died saving her. We don’t know what the consequences for her will be, but if she felt guilt over the years maybe now her conscience can be put to rest as well.
The other thing I noticed on this read is perhaps a sneaky reference to another ghost story The Shining where in the film Jack’s draft of his book repeats the old proverb “All Work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” in this Mrs Wilkins notes repeat the Amy Beckett rhyme. While there have been other evil influence ghost stories, I do find the repeating rhymes, the mystery and that Amy Beckett wasn’t all evil makes it stand out from some others. It is a good read for Halloween and the resolution of the story, with the truth finally coming to light and Amy finding peace, was satisfying.