Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Devoured, Spooky Season, Writing

Devoured

She came to me in a dream. The water seemed to dance around her as she stared up from the lake, plump, pale lips parted as her sweet song surrounded me.

“Come live with me and be my love.” She trilled, a hint of hunger in her voice. “‘Neath lover’s lights that dance above.”

I couldn’t resist her. I tried with everything I had, but the lure was just too strong, and in the end, there was nothing I could do.

It started with dreams, but she found her way into every aspect of my life and now there’s no escape.

I have dreamed of her every night since I left England, and I think I will until the day I die.

I am helpless. Captured. Enchanted, and it’s all about to be over, but I want you to know that I tried.

I tried with everything I had, because I knew what it meant not to try. I knew the pain I’d cause if I gave in. I had spent years building up walls and defences, training myself to be what the world needed me to be, but it all crumpled the second I heard Nessa’s song.

The move to Drumnadrochit was supposed to be my fresh start. I told myself that I’d be far away from temptation, and ready to start life over, but that’s just not the way it worked out.

I wanted to love Ray. I really did. He was a great guy, romantic, tall, dark and acceptable looking, but that was the problem. He was a great guy. I wasn’t made for a guy, great or otherwise, but I knew I couldn’t have what I needed, so I pretended. He never noticed anything was wrong, and he was happy, so I tried to be happy too.

Our relationship worked best in the beginning, when we lived hundreds of miles apart. I kept away from… well, you know, but I didn’t have to play the loving girlfriend for longer than a few hours a day over Zoom, and as far as everyone around me knew, I was normal.

When he asked me to move in with him, it made me nervous, but it seemed like a good idea. I didn’t know anyone there, and it was remote, the kind of place where everyone knew everyone, so there was no way I could slip up and give in to my demons. I would be a rural housewife, or whatever, locked away in a cosy cottage, far away from my fantasies.

It would be fine.

For the first week, it was fine. I struggled a little with the intensity of suddenly being touched, kissed and embraced by the boyfriend who had no idea how agonising it was for his girlfriend. I’d smile, try not to flinch and power through it, but as time went on, I realised that I needed space, somewhere to decompress and stifle all the unpleasant feelings that were bubbling and boiling inside of me, so that I could go back, once more into the breach and be what he needed.

I decided I’d take a walk every day. Normally when he’d gone to work and I’d finished all the chores. It was lonely, but that was just how I liked it. I’d walk down through the village to the loch and just sit on the shore, secretly hoping that the Loch Ness Monster would rise from the water and swallow me whole.

Sadly, the Loch Ness Monster has never obliged my wish, but something else found me at the loch, something I’d never imagined was possible.

I heard her song, and couldn’t resist.

The world seemed to fade away and the sky blackened as the water began to bubble. I stared out into the loch, my whole body tingling, as every thought seemed to leave my mind, except my curiosity for the beautiful, haunting melody that I could hear up ahead.

I walked forward, almost compelled, the harsh winds suddenly soft against my skin as I knelt by the shore, plunging my hands into the deep blue, my body, electric as I felt hands reach up and interlock with my own.

“Come live with me and be my love.” The words were so sweet, her voice gentle and hypnotic. “‘Neath lover’s lights that dance above.” She rose from the water, crystal blue eyes, flowing, flaming hair and the same tempting, tender lips, surrounding me with song, just as I had dreamed.

I had dreamed of her every night, but I hadn’t thought much about it. I was always having dreams about women, so I had just enjoyed them as a little treat for myself and tried to forget them when the morning arrived. She was special, though. I couldn’t tell why, not then, but something inside told me that I’d never forget her.

“And we shall dine on your betrothed.” Our hands lifted from the water, locked together, and I was lost in her soft stare and her sweet song. “Then bathe his bones in marigolds.” She pulled me closer, her lips brushing against my own, and I was awash with apprehension as I leaned closer to a kiss that it seemed I’d waited my life for.

“Leigh!” We broke apart and I fell back, staring up at her from the soft grass as Ray’s voice rang out across the loch. “What are you doing out here?” I could hear him running towards us, but I couldn’t take my eyes from her. She smiled sweetly, giving a final wave before plunging down into the icy depths, a sliver of a silver tail peeking up above the water before vanishing with the rest of her. “I told you, the bank is slippery, you could fall.” Ray wrapped his arms around me, but I just stared down into the still waters, trying to make sense of what I’d seen, and more importantly, what I’d felt.

We went home, but the rest of the day seemed to rush by. I barely noticed the world around me and I counted down the seconds until it was acceptable to go to bed. I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that somewhere in my dreams, she’d be waiting for me.

As I fell to sleep, I could hear her, softly in the distance. The same sweet song as the world went away, and I was left in the darkness, surrounded by her voice and my longing for her.

I reached out into the darkness, crawling along the damp floor, watching it form into grass and mud, the water of the loch coming into view just before me as I followed her voice towards the shore.

“Petals will play in waters blue, our love will stay forever true.” My heart soared with every word, and I scrambled to the water, plunging my hands beneath the depths, frantically searching for her. “He’ll be found, washed up ashore, but you’ll stay young, forever more.” A bright light began to pulse under the water, the loch bubbling as she burst from the waves, reaching up towards me with a smile.

“Who are you?” I was breathless, my voice shaking as she pulled me towards her, our faces, agonisingly close. “Why do you keep bringing me here?” I ached for her, my heart pounding as she placed a fingertip gently on my lips.

Her eyes met mine and I was aflame. Her finger slowly slid down my lips, and at last, her lips became mine, tender and gentle, sweet and divine, and I knew, within seconds, that I belonged to her entirely.

Darkness fell around us, and she faded to black with the loch and the shore, leaving me alone, awoken and aflame in the soft sheets of my bed.

I rose, walking towards the living room where I could hear Ray, whispering in frustration as he lost another round of FIFA. His eyes were glued to the screen, and the knife felt light in my hand. The lights of the television flickered as the light in his eyes went out, and my true love’s song surrounded me once more as I dragged Ray’s body through the village and to the shore.

Her eyes seemed to sparkle as I pushed the man who loved me into the loch, his corpse causing a splash before he sank down below the surface. With a glittering smile, she beckoned me closer, and I stepped into the cool cerulean, wading until my waist was wet, and then my shoulders, which were soon embraced by her hungry hands.

“Come live with me, beneath the stars, submerge yourself in who you are.” She whispered, pulling me into a deep and passionate kiss as we fell beneath the water. “You can’t resist, the pull too strong, awaken lover, hear my song.”

As she held me in her arms, I felt a peace that I never knew I’d needed. At last, there was no more pretending, no more hiding, just quiet comfort in the arms of a lover. It was bliss, and for a moment, I thought I could be happy, but as the kiss ended, from the corner of my eye, I saw Ray’s eyes, wide open and staring as his body descended through the depths with a look of such sadness.

I pulled away, my heart sinking as I looked around me, my chest suddenly tight with panic, and pressure. I swam to the surface, falling against the bank, breathless, pulling away as she tried to summon me back to the water. I scrambled across the shore, falling against the grass, overcome with grief and disgust at what I had allowed myself to become.

“Why did you make me do that?” I sobbed, choking on my grief as she rested her head on her arms by the shore, pouting over at me.

“Because you’re mine and he was getting in the way.” She said it with such casual callousness that all I could do was stare back in horror. “And you’ll bring me more of these men.” I shook my head, almost blinded by tears. “Unless you want me to sing for someone other than you…” I felt a pang of jealousy in my stomach, and she began singing her maddening melody again, leaving me with nothing to do but obey. “You can’t resist, the pull too strong, awaken lover, hear my song.”

She was right. I couldn’t resist.

After a few weeks, the police stopped asking questions about Ray, and concluded that he’d drowned after slipping on the bank. I couldn’t help but wonder if Nessa had something to do with them suddenly giving up on the investigation, or if she had something to do with them not taking much of an interest in the uptick in men who went missing around the village. There was no point in asking questions, or trying to resist, because I could do neither.

It will all stop tonight, though, and you’ll know the truth. I don’t know that the truth will make up for all that I’ve done, but it’s all that I have to offer. I will be the last of the villagers she dines on, bleeding out on the bank as the stars stare down from the sky before she brings me with her to the depths, where I will rest forever.

You will read this confession on the notice board tomorrow morning, finally knowing the truth about what lies beneath the dark waters of Loch Ness.

There was a monster in that Loch, and truly I was her.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Spooky Season, Writing

Flashback – Faerie Tales

You meet all sorts of people when you run a bed and breakfast. I’ve had honeymooning couples, couples on the brink of divorce, lads on stag nights, people who’ve run away to start a new life. All sorts. It just comes with the job, I suppose. You meet all sorts, and they probably won’t remember you when they check out, and most of the time, you won’t remember them either, but every now and again, you get a guest like Nick, and over time, you realise that you’re not going to be able to get them out of your head for as long as you live.

It was a nasty business, what happened to Nick, and to that girl of his. A very nasty business, indeed, but I suppose I’m getting ahead of myself.

I assume you’ll want Nick’s room, right? All the travellers who come here want his room. They come to make their documentaries, their podcasts, their long form journalistic pieces that nobody will read. They all want his room when they come to stay, and they sit up all night, trying to figure out what happened to him, poking around the room for clues. There’s nothing up there that the police haven’t already dusted for prints and photographed, but they insist all the same. They all want his room, and they all want to speak to me about what I saw. I’ve told them, all of them, but none of them can explain it or find the poor man.

I used to think nobody would find him, but I’m beginning to think I’ve solved the mystery of where he was finally laid to rest. Again, I’m getting ahead of myself, so I suppose I’ll start from the beginning. You’ll want to know everything, won’t you?

Nick was a last minute booking. It was a few weeks after the end of the tourist season. Bookings had been slow for most of the summer, and had slowed to a stop during the October half term. We’d had quite a few cancellations, because apparently people don’t realise that rain on Scottish islands in the autumn is a possibility, and by the time Nick arrived, the entire place was empty. I had kept the place open out of habit, but hadn’t really been expecting guests, especially not a guest that hadn’t booked in advance, but after a difficult year, I certainly needed the money, so I was very pleased to see him.

As he checked in, he buzzed about the plants across the island that he’d like to see. It was almost winter, so all the plants would be dead, but I didn’t want to talk myself out of a booking, so I humoured him and made conversation. He told me he wanted to hunt for faeries, and again, I held my tongue. We get quite a few faerie hunters on the island, and they always head back towards the ferries with disappointed faces, but I needed the money, so I humoured him and wished him well.

He seemed a nice enough man, with a kind face and soft, auburn hair. He cut a striking figure on the posters, you know, after… everything. Again, I’m getting ahead of myself

He arrived alone, but after that, I rarely saw him by himself. They were inseparable, him and Debra. She was the daughter of Henry Johnson, one of the farmers on the other side of the island, although, on an island this small, it is a little redundant to clarify on which side of the island somebody lives. Debra was Henry and his wife Joanna’s pride and joy, but between you and me, I’d always had a bit of a weird feeling about her. I know that it seems a little judgemental, but I’m not alone.

Nobody would say, of course, but almost everyone I know had a bit of a weird feeling about Debra. I suppose she’d always been there, growing up with our kids, going to school with them, but something about her always seemed… off. None of the kids wanted to play with her, so she’d wander the hills and valleys as a little girl, and as she grew into a young woman, she kept to herself. The kids grew up, probably matured enough to include her, but she didn’t have an interest. Some people saw her as stuck up, maybe a little bitter, but for me, I’d always seen something a little bit dark in that girl, and I don’t just refer to her gloomy dress sense and long black locks. When Nick came along and she got her claws into him, I felt vindicated in my suspicions.

He met her on his first night on the island. I saw them out of the window. I can see quite a lot of the island from my bedroom window, you know. Sometimes, I let the reporters and so on look through it, to see what I can see, but they waste the view. Everyone that comes here is in a rush, you see, they never take the time to really look, but I do. That’s how I saw them.

He was walking down towards the beach when they crossed paths. He looked up and seemed instantly enchanted. They chatted for a few minutes before walking together into the dark night. The next morning, Debra was all he could talk about. He was spellbound, unable to keep a smile off of his face and before long, she stopped by to collect him. They told me that they were off to look for faeries, and I frowned at Debra, knowing that she knew, as I did, that there was no such thing, but again, for the sake of my fees, I kept my reservations to myself and wished them a good day.

There had always been rumours of faeries from visitors to the island. They were obsessed with the idea, and in a way, it was what we were famous for. None of us had ever seen them, but if people wanted to pay us to make use of our island while hunting for them, we weren’t really in a position to spoil the illusion. Debra seemed to believe though. I couldn’t understand why, but she’d always been strange, so I just attributed it to that.

The day went by, and nothing too interesting happened until I went to change Nick’s sheets. As wrong as it is, I tend to take a little look around the rooms when I change the sheets. It’s an invasion of privacy, and it’s completely unethical, but anyone in my position who says that they don’t is a liar. It was mostly normal. He had the usual things you’d expect for a young man on an exploring holiday, but tucked away in the papers on his desk was a drawing. It was quite intricate, with beautiful shading and detail. It showed the forest, down past the Johnson’s farm, and there was a woman with dark tresses, backing away from the trees, afraid, her face as white as the sheets I held in my hands. Behind the branches of the trees was a strange, silvery light that seemed to have wrapped its way around the night.

He had signed it with his name, and written “She is lost” in the corner. It was unusual, and very pretty, but I didn’t think much of it at the time. I suppose I should have. If I’m going to snoop, I should follow it up, but even when this place is almost empty, running a bed and breakfast is a lot of work, so I got on with fixing dinner and forgot about it.

Debra joined Nick for dinner, and barely said a word to me. Nick explained that they’d yet to spot any faeries, but that Debra was sure they would eventually. I shot her a look of contempt and carried on with dinner. It was wrong to take advantage of his naivety, but at that point, we were both in as deep as each other, so all I could do was glare.

They chatted to each other about the faeries, both of them lost in the idea that the faeries were sweet and benevolent, the protectors of the island. It was nonsense, of course, but they seemed happy enough, so I left them to it.

That night, Nick made use of the sitting room with me, half paying attention to the television as he worked on another drawing. I peered over at it, trying to hide the fact that I already knew he liked to draw.

“What are you drawing?” I asked, trying to be as casual as I could.

He passed me the pad, with a proud smile on his face. He had drawn the beach, with a huge, glowing moon looking down on it. It looked beautiful, until my eyes travelled down and I saw what lay in the sand. There was a woman’s body, half buried, her dark hair fanned across her shoulders, as a pair of spindly, silver claws crept out from behind one of the rocks.

I handed the pad back to Nick, suddenly uncomfortable with his company, but desperate to know why he’d draw such a thing. I asked him, and he told me that he’d seen it in his dreams, for weeks. Apparently, he’d been having these horrible nightmares and all of them seemed to lead him here, to the faeries. He believed, with all sincerity that the faeries could cure his bad dreams. It was hard not to laugh, in the moment. Not so funny now, of course.

The next morning, he went out with Debra, again, hunting for faeries, and I got on with my day. I took another little peek at his drawings and noticed that he’d captioned the drawing from the night before as “She is found.” I felt a shiver through my body as I looked over the image, dropping it back on the desk and walking from the room, trying to push what I’d seen from my mind.

I tried to forget as the day went on, but the latest drawing stuck with me as the hours slipped by. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and I couldn’t help but worry about Nick.

He didn’t arrive home for dinner that night. Time ticked by and I stared from my bedroom window, waiting to see him walking down the path, but he never came. I thought about the drawings again, wondering what they could possibly mean, and in the pit of my stomach was a small but growing drop of dread.

I went looking for him that night, but I didn’t find a trace of him. I walked down to the beach, and the whole place was quiet, with nothing but the soft waves lapping against the sand and rocks to fill the air, until, all of a sudden, a scream burst through the quiet night, capturing my attention. I began running towards the sound, over towards the farm, unsure of what I’d find when I got there, but, for some reason, I knew it would have something to do with Nick.

As I approached the farm, I stared up at the forest ahead, shocked to see it ripped from the darkness of the night and surrounded by a silver light that was weaved around the branches and leaves. As I got closer, I could hear another scream, weaker than before, strangled by sobs as a figure fled the shadows of the trees. I ran towards them, suddenly struck by how similar the image was, as I saw the figure’s dark tresses falling down their back as they backed away from the forest. It was the woman from Nick’s drawing, and she was running from the forest, surrounded by the silver light, just as the picture showed. I took her hand, and she grasped it tightly, weeping hysterically and pulling me away from the forest.

As we ran, I could see it was Debra, and when we reached the edge of her parent’s farm, and she slowed to a stop, I caught my breath and then asked her what was going on.

“It’s Nick.” She said. “They took him.” I took her back to her parents, but she was inconsolable. I didn’t really know what to tell them, and as we all sat down for a cup of tea, staring at her expectantly, it became clear that he wasn’t sure what to say either. After a little coaxing, she began telling us about how the two of them had gone to the forest to look for faeries. I rolled my eyes, again, knowing that everyone around the table knew that such a thing just didn’t exist on the island, or anywhere, but she carried on, seemingly unconcerned by my lack of faith.

“I used to see them in the trees sometimes, so I took him to the spots I’d seen them before…” Her parents looked at me, confused and hoping for some answers from me, but I had nothing but what I’d seen at the edge of the forest. “The faeries are different now…” Debra trailed off, sadness and fear flooding her eyes. “It’s all my fault.” She wailed, running from the room and slamming the door behind her.

I made my excuses shortly after and left. Something didn’t feel right, and I needed to find Nick, but it was far too dark for me to have much success, so I walked home, and decided to get some rest before trying again the next day.

I couldn’t help it, as cruel as it felt, but I knew that Debra had something to do with it. Like I said, there was something off with that girl.

The morning came, and I wandered the island, with the benefit of daylight, but Nick was nowhere to be found. I didn’t want to, but I had no choice but to call the police. Nobody wants to call the police when their business is tourism, because it’s a small island, and everybody talks. Just the smallest hint that the police have been called, for any reason at all sends tourists into a panic. I kept thinking about his family, and how they’d need to know that I did everything that I could, but I had a bad feeling that everything I would do would be for nothing. Of course, I didn’t believe Debra’s silly story about faeries, but I knew that something terrible had happened to Nick. I’m not sure how I knew, but I just had a feeling, a deep, troubling feeling.

It wasn’t just the few tourists we had dotted around the island, the locals were beginning to worry too. Within an hour, I had a crowd of islanders outside my door, ready to pitch in and help me find Nick. A few of us made up posters to hand out as the two police officers that had come over from the mainland began combing the island. As time went on, more of the island joined us, until there was only one, glaring and obvious omission, Debra.

I came across her on my search, stood by the entrance to the forest, looking just as frightened as she had the night before, her eyes following the branches as they swayed gently in the wind.

“He’s not in there anymore.” She whispered, turning away from the trees and looking over my shoulder. “That way.” Debra pushed past me and began walking down towards the beach. “Hurry up, he’s dead.” I followed her, a little uncomfortable with how casually she said such horrifying things. She showed no emotion as she walked. Her face was still covered in tears, but the sadness had left her eyes, and they were empty of anything.

“Debra, do you know what happened to Nick.” I asked her, jogging to keep up as he began to run towards the shore. “Debra?” She ignored me, pushing though a small group of volunteers that was searching by the beach, and running towards the waves.

The rest of the crowd began to gather by the beach, all of us following Debra as she approached the roaring sea.

Rain began to fall as thunder crashed, and Nick’s sketch pad washed up on the shore, dirty and damaged but obviously his.

Debra pointed at it, her finger shaking as I crept closer, lifting it from the bubbling waves. She then pointed behind us, towards the forest, her eyes filling with tears.

“How did you know he was here Debra?” She fell to her knees, weeping as she grasped for the sketch pad. I snatched it away from her reach as the police officers approached. “How did you know Nick was here?” She wailed, thrashing as the police officers began lifted her to her feet and began walking her back towards the farmhouse.

“They’re coming to get me too!” She screamed, as the officers lifted her from the ground and carried her, kicking and shrieking towards her parents home.

Nick was declared dead a few days later. His body was never found, but it was assumed that he’d drowned. I spoke to his mother briefly, and when she asked me what had happened, I almost hung up the phone. I didn’t know what to say to her. Nobody did. We didn’t even know what to say to each other.

After Nick was declared dead, things went downhill for the island. The media coverage began, and tourists were put off. The few bookings I had left before the new year were cancelled, and the cafes, restaurants and shops around the island knew that a lack of tourists would affect them too. It was like a chain reaction. The holiday cottages lost their bookings too, and then the bus company that did day excursions. Soon, none of us had any work for the foreseeable future, and it all seemed to link back to Nick’s death.

The Johnson’s were shunned. Debra was to blame. That’s what everyone thought. They’d never say it, but that’s certainly how they felt. I felt it too, I couldn’t help it. The police said that there was no evidence of foul play, but she takes him into the forest at night and then emerges without him, talking about faeries and such nonsense and the police don’t suspect any foul play? Sounds fishy to me.

She had no answers as to why she took him to the forest at night, when they’d apparently been able to find faeries just fine during the day. She also couldn’t answer how he went from the forest to the sea without her noticing. It became very clear that she’d had something to do with his disappearance, but there was nothing that could be done. The police moved on, and we were expected to as well, but nobody could.

She spread her sickness across the island and soon, we were all pariahs too. We tried to move on, but there was resentment bubbling, and a rage that needed relief.

It had been a few weeks before that relief was found. As I settled into bed, exhausted, my rest was immediately interrupted by the sounds of walking outside. Lazily, I got out of bed, and headed to my window to see what was happening, and was shocked to see several of the islanders walking past the house and up towards the farm. I opened the window, leaning out and seeing more and more pouring down the street behind them.

“What are you doing?” I called down from the window. Nobody answered, so I dressed and ran from the house to follow them. “What’s going on?” I asked, pulling my neighbour Russell to a stop and forcing him to meet my gaze.

“We’re going to make Debra confess.” He snarled, taking my hand and pulling me along with the crowd. We walked down towards the beach, to head up to the farmhouse, and that’s when I saw the silver light.

It shone high above the beach, casting brightness throughout the night’s sky. It lit up the sand and her dark hair seemed to shine as it lay across her shoulders. Submerged in the sand, all I could see of her was her shoulders and her glistening hair.

I pulled Russell towards the beach, the others began breaking away from the crowd and following us, and soon, we gathered on the sand, staring down at Debra’s body. I clasped my hand to my mouth, horrified as I stared around the beach, suddenly aware of how familiar it all was. Behind one of the rocks, I noticed a slender, light fingertip, almost like a claw slip behind the stone, just like Nick’s picture, and my blood ran cold.

Debra had been telling the truth, you see. They’d encountered faeries, but they had no idea what they were getting into.

The faeries are real, but like many things, the reality didn’t quite live up to the fairytale. Debra wanted to see them as kind, loving creatures and Nick saw them as the saviours that would rescue him from his bad dreams, but that was what the faeries wanted them to think.

I know that it sounds ridiculous. You’re looking at me like I’m mad. They all do, when I tell them. They ask me for the truth, but they’re not ready to hear it, or to understand.

We began to understand, but nobody liked to talk about it. The curious journalists began to flood the island after Debra’s body was found. One death on an island is a little strange, but a second, with an actual body drew them to us.

The doctors didn’t know what had happened to her, or how she ended up on the beach, and the police didn’t look into it too much, but people with questions approached the island, pointing cameras and pointing fingers on their quest for the truth.

None of them ever got close, of course. They’d theorise about drugs, or illness, some kind of pact between them, but none of them ever got close to the truth.

We learned to stay in at night, and to keep our guests close when night fell, but every now and again, some well meaning type would see us as paranoid and go out for a late night walk and just… never come back. We stopped calling the police after Debra. They never got to the bottom of it. Someone would wander into the night, and just never return, and we’d all swallow the guilt of it, knowing the truth but knowing that we’d never be believed, just like Debra.

It was a nasty business, you know.

Nobody ever knew what the faeries wanted, or why they took people, so all we could do was try to keep people out of their grasp. It isn’t easy, when nobody believes you, but I do what I can.

As for Nick? I told you, I’m beginning to understand where he ended up. It wasn’t in the sea, not all of him anyway. Bits and pieces, I suppose, his sketch pad, of course, but I saw Nick again just last week.

The faeries are getting bolder. It’s a nasty business, you know. I saw them gathering at the entrance to the forest during daylight. Their spindly claws protruding from their cloaks as the silver light whipped all around them, and tied to a tree, surrounded by chanting faeries that skulked around the trunk with wicked smiles was Nick.

I couldn’t see much under the cloaks, but what I could see looked almost human, almost beautiful even. Not quite, but almost, and it unsettled me. I hid behind some bushes, peeking through and hoping that they didn’t spot me.

Nick didn’t struggle. He leant, lifelessly against the tree, bruised under his bounds with the colour drained from his cheeks. He looked up at me, a solemn sadness in his eyes, and the faeries all turned to me, their gaze piercing. I had been discovered.

I ran. I wish I could tell you that I rescued him, that I burst through the hoards to untie him and carry him to safety, but I ran. I didn’t stop running until I was back inside my house, bolting the door and closing all the curtains.

I’ve seen them a few more times since then, but I just walk past, as quickly as I can. Like I said, they’ve gotten bolder. Sometimes, we see them without their cloaks. They look almost human, like I said. Like pretty, mischievous girls, but there’s something strange about them, something that you don’t quite spot unless you’re looking for it.

I don’t know what they wanted with him, or why they’d kept him alive, but as we’ve all come to understand, you don’t question them.

You don’t question them. You don’t go out when night falls. You don’t bother them. That’s the only way that you live.

I’ve never actually told anyone about Nick, and you’re not going to either. It’s a nasty business, but people off the island mustn’t know. The faeries wouldn’t like it. I’ll tell you what they would like, though. I think they’d like to spend some time with you. In fact, I’ve set up an appointment for you. That’s them at the door. Don’t struggle. Don’t worry. It will be over before you know it.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Writing

Forever Young

The ocean’s wild and untamed waves harmonised with the relentless wind as night fell. Night arrived so much earlier in winter and Hamish found it unsettling. There was a lot that Hamish found unsettling, and if he had things his way, he would never have joined the family business with his older brother.

Hamish had always hated the sea. He longed for the land every second that he was trapped by his duty in the lighthouse. High up in the sky, surrounded by the ocean, he watched life carry on for everyone but him. He would watch the sailors, bonded by their adventures out at sea, tourists coming and going to the islands on ferries, couples and families strolling along the hills on sunny days when the storms were at bay. Everything was so close, but Hamish was locked away in lighthouse, guilted into the family business, with no hope of getting out.

He had always been a dreamer, spending all of his spare time fantasising about going to the mainland as a child. There was nothing wrong with life on Stornoway, of course, it was a beautiful place to live, with lots to see, but he had heard tales from the sailors, and like a caged animal, he was itching to explore all that the rest of the world had to offer.

The second great war was over, and Europe was beginning to buzz again as it recovered from the horror of conflict, but Europe was a bit big for his dreams, and so, his dreams were as small as his bounds, and really just involved tasting a little of life on the mainland.

The kettle shook as it boiled, tearing Hamish from his fantasies of escape, and he placed two cups before it with a quiet sigh. The storm had been difficult, as storms tended to be, but this one felt troubling to him, as if nature was furious and was taking it out on him specifically.

“How about mash with the sausages?” Cameron, the older of the brothers asked, entering the kitchen and falling into one of the empty seats at the table. “It’s as close to Mum’s cooking as you can get up here.” Hamish nodded as the thunder roared outside, followed closely by lightning baring its teeth through the window.

The brothers were used to storms. It was just another chapter in the story of life at sea, but this storm was particularly vicious. The rain whipped at the windows and their bones shook with the cold of the icy winds.

Life was cold and lonely in the lighthouse, but the two brothers had each other for company. As their father had been, for many years before his death, Hamish and his brother were lighthouse keepers. They trimmed the wicks, cleaned the lenses, kept the flames of the lamp burning and kept sailors safe from the perils of nature.

Their father had died in a storm like the one Hamish found himself in, and try as he might, Hamish couldn’t quite keep his mind off of that fact. All that he knew was that the storm had hit, and his father had never been seen again. Hamish had just turned sixteen, and went from dreaming of the freedom that finishing school gave to stepping into his father’s shoes with his brother. The shoes were big, and they were didn’t feel like the right fit for him, but he had no choice. In a way, he felt it was unfair, but Hamish had spent a lot of time in the lighthouse and had come to the conclusion that perhaps, life was just unfair.

It wasn’t an ideal life, but he was fed, sheltered, and got to spend time with his brother, so he couldn’t complain, and would only really consider complaining if he found himself close to his father’s fate. The storm raged on around him, and Hamish considered that tonight may, at last, be one of the times when complaining was justified.

The brothers had grown used to the thunder, and the endless drumming of the rain against the windows, but as he closed the oven door with a weary sigh beyond his years, Hamish heard a sound that he hadn’t heard in years.

There was a knock at the door.

The knock was curt, short and sharp but shocking. The lighthouse was a lonely place, and not the kind of place where you’d hear knocks at the door. The brothers looked at each other, shock across their faces as the room fell silent again. Cameron pointed at the door, rising from his seat and slowly walking towards it. Hamish shook his head, grabbing his brother to try and hold him back, but failing to stop him before he swung the door open.

Wind whipped through the lighthouse, howling as it flew around the brothers. The hallway was empty, with no sign of life and no shadows before them. The brothers stared at each other, confused and in all honesty, frightened, both stepping out into the hallway to inspect the darkness, but finding nothing that could explain the knock.

The rest of the night went without incident, and without explanation for the phantom knock, and while the brothers tried to forget about it, they were both still chilled by the odd knock in the kitchen.

Hamish fell into a shallow sleep, and found himself dreaming of the lighthouse, haunted by loud, impatient knocks at a door that he didn’t dare to open. As he awoke the next morning, he lay in bed for a moment, trying to shake off the nightmares that had followed him as he slept.

The storm continued, and so did Hamish’s nervousness. He had tried to take his mind off of the knock, the storm, his memories of his father, but as he went about his duties, they were all that played on his mind.

As the day wound down and Hamish watched Cameron prepare dinner, he wrote a letter to his mother, not mentioning his anxieties, of course, but he was unable to keep himself from saying “I wish you were here.” He made a plan to post it as soon as the storm cleared up, and tried to focus his thoughts on that, rather than the sense of dread that was circling him as the evening crept closer.

As the brothers ate in silence, surrounded by the sound of the storm, Hamish found himself daydreaming again of a life outside of the lighthouse. His dreams were always simple. A little house in a city somewhere far away, a busy job, a friend that wasn’t a blood relative, a drink in a pub where nobody knew his name, and in his wildest dreams, a wife to love and cherish.

That night was a night in which he delved into his wildest dreams. He pictured the fantasy as he chewed and swallowed the bland stew before him. She had eyes as blue as an ocean, soft lips that he ached to kiss, and thick, yellow curls that framed her gorgeous face.

He had never met a woman like that in his nineteen years on the Earth, and in fact, had not met many women at all, but in his dreams, this woman would fall in love with him, and as the night went on, he imagined that she would be waiting in the cold, itchy sheets of his lonely bed.

As he dreamed the evening away, he was pulled back into reality by another knock on the door. He dropped his spoon to the table with a start, looking up at Cameron and then towards the door. The knock repeated, echoing through the kitchen as the wind screeched outside.

Hamish stood from the table, shaking as he approached the door, Cameron following close behind. His nightmares flashed to the front of his mind, and the air around him felt cold.

“Hello?” The brothers called out, almost in unison. There were no words spoken on the other side of the door, just another knock, somehow more insistent, joined by another and another, until the sound of the knocking was deafening.

Paralysed by fear, Hamish watched in horror as his brother pushed past him, unbolted the door and threw it open.

Hamish was speechless, unable to believe his eyes, as his fantasy stood before him.

Dripping in rainwater and shivering from the cold, but undeniably stunning was a girl that set his heart racing. She gazed up at him, with her sapphire eyes, peering through damp curls with a smile that took his breath away.

“Can you help me?” She whispered, reaching out a hand to the silent siblings. “I got lost in the…” She gestured out the window behind them with a slight giggle. Hamish was enchanted, unable to take his eyes away from the visitor, nodding enthusiastically as he pushed his brother aside and stepped in front of the girl.

“Of course!” His words were lost in a sigh, as he grabbed her hand and pulled her into the room, guiding her into a chair. “You must be freezing!” He rushed through to the bathroom, and returned shortly after with a towel, wrapping it around her shoulders, breathless as their eyes met.

“What were you doing out there?” Cameron asked, leaning against the kitchen counter with an inquisitive stare at the beautiful stranger.

“I was searching for my Mother.” She said softly, not taking her eyes off of Hamish as she spoke. “She went out yesterday to get the ferry to the mainland to get some shopping, and…” She paused, her smile fading as she stared at Hamish, her eyes sad and suddenly full of fear. “And she never came back.”

Hamish clutched her hand tightly, gazing into her eyes and trying his best to look like the hero she clearly needed him to be.

“We’ll help you find her.” She smiled again, her soft fingers brushing his own tenderly, and for a moment, Hamish was in heaven, but as was often the case, he was quickly torn from his dreams and sped back to reality.

The storm rattled against the lighthouse as Cameron pulled him away from the girl and bundled him into the cramped hallway with a frown.

“We can’t go out there, we’ll get as lost as her mother.” He argued, his face as thunderous as the storm that waited for them outside.

“We have to do something Cameron!” Hamish pleaded, but Cameron shook his head with a sigh. “What if it was our mother?”

Cameron sighed again, rolling his eyes at his younger brother.

“The ferry got back fine, she probably just stayed on the mainland and forgot to call.” His voice was weathered, and Hamish found his brother’s lack of urgency about the matter frustrating. “She can stay tonight, and we’ll go and check at the port tomorrow if the storm clears up.” Hamish wasn’t entirely convinced by the compromise, but he knew that his brother was an honest man, so decided to trust him.

“Okay, fair enough.” Hamish said with a nod, opening the door and hurrying back to the stranger, unable to hide his excitement as he sat before her with a huge grin. “It’s a bit dangerous to go out now, but you can stay here and we’ll look for her in the morning.” She returned his smile, and as their eyes met, Hamish could swear that there was electricity in the air.

“Thank you.” Her voice was soft, tender like her enchanting eyes, and try as he might (he didn’t actually try very hard), Hamish could not resist imagining the beginnings of a love story for the two of them. “I’m Allison, by the way.” She said, as Hamish held her hands in his own, rubbing them gently to warm them.

“Hamish.” He sighed, absolutely enchanted and charmed by the girl. He melted under her gaze, hopelessly lost in a fantasy.

“I’m Cameron.” The older brother said with another roll of his eyes, fully aware that nobody was listening to him. “And I’m going to bloody bed.”

As the night unfolded and the two lovebirds found themselves alone in Hamish’s bedroom, Hamish and Allison did a lot of lovesick staring.

Despite his lack of experience with women, Hamish found himself falling into the role of Romeo relatively quickly. They talked for hours, their hands tightly intertwined, and at about three in the morning, when they could barely keep their eyes open, they shared a gentle kiss before she fell into his arms and they fell into a deep, sweet sleep.

His dreams were a rose tinted affair, and as he woke up with a beautiful girl in his arms, he found it hard to believe that he was actually awake, but as he looked down at Allison and pinched his arm to be sure, he realised that he was truly the luckiest man in the Outer Hebrides.

The storm continued to batter the lighthouse with little promise of slowing down and as Hamish made breakfast for the two of them, he hoped that there would be relief from the weather soon, but was secretly pleased that they had nothing to do but cuddle.

“Can we go and look for Mother now?” Hamish tried to hide his disappointment and smiled down at the girl, wishing he could have more time in his happy little fantasy, but accepting that a promise had been made. “I thought we could try the caves, in case she went in there for shelter?” Hamish nodded, kissing her forehead with a smile as Cameron strode in from the direction of his bedroom.

“We do have jobs, you know.” He grumbled, snatching some toast from the table with a scowl towards the young lovers. “She can stay up here, but we have to work.” Hamish shook his head, standing from the table and taking Allison’s hand.

“We’re going to try the caves and see if we can find her Mother.” He said, trying his best to sound assertive, and feeling as if he accomplished it as Allison beamed up at him. Reality dropped back into the picture within seconds as Cameron grabbed his arm and began pulling him towards the hallway.

Piling into the claustrophobic hallway once again, the brothers glared at each other, arguing in their quietest, most aggressive whispers.

“You promised me that we could go and look for her mother today.” Cameron rolled his eyes again at his brother, frustration building at the boy losing his mind over a stranger.

“If the storm cleared up, yes, but it’s still mad out there!” It was Hamish’s turn to roll his eyes. He stared daggers into his older brother.

“I don’t care, I’m going.” He snapped, forgetting to whisper as he stormed from the hallway back towards the kitchen.

“Hamish, don’t be an idiot!” It was too late. Hamish had heard enough, and was determined to help their guest, with or without his brother’s help. He turned away from his brother and walked back towards the kitchen, ready to tell Allison about his plan (which wasn’t actually THAT fleshed out yet…) only to find that she was gone.

It was impossible. The only way out would have been past the two brothers and down the staircase, but he was certain that he hadn’t seen her. The windows were still closed and locked, but Allison was nowhere to be found.

Hamish looked desperately around the empty kitchen, running between the bathroom and small bedrooms. It didn’t make any sense, but he was too panicked by her sudden disappearance to care.

His heart raced as he searched the small space of the lighthouse for her, to no avail.

“Don’t be stupid.” Cameron cried as he followed his brother into the kitchen, shocked to see him standing alone by the door. “Hey, where did she go?” Hamish was silent, gesturing to the impossibility of the empty room around him, and the disappearance of Allison, his face pale as he reached for the door. “Hamish, no…” The younger brother did not reply, and he didn’t look back, opening the door and grabbing his coat as he began running through the small hallway and down the spiralling staircase towards the waiting, wailing storm. “Hamish!” Cameron yelled, with frustration across his face as he tore down the stairs after his brother, pulling his coat around his shoulders as he finally caught up to Hamish.

Lightning flashed across the dark, dismal sky as the youngest of the brothers began walking, his boots clung to by the mud and soaked in rain water. Cameron chased after him, almost falling as he, like the mud, clung to the headstrong, lovestruck idiot and tried to pull him back to the safety of the lighthouse.

“How the hell are you going to find her in this?” He cried, drowned out by the storm and barely audible. Hamish ignored his brother, rushing ahead and heading towards the caves by the ocean. Lightning stretched across the sky, chased by thunder and try as he might, Cameron could not stop his brother from marching ahead towards the shore. “Please Hamish, will you just think?” He bellowed, reaching out again to his brother but slipping, and collapsing down into the mud.

Hamish did not look back, breaking into a run with only one thing on his mind. He had to get to Allison, and he had to keep his promise, even if his brother was too much of a coward to join him. Hamish had never felt such determination, and in his naive, unfortunate state, he believed that he was powered by love, but the truth was as far from love as it could get, and something he was yet to discover.

He could hear his brother calling out to him, but as he ran and got closer to the caves, Cameron’s voice fell away into the roaring wind and all he could hear was the storm around him.

The caves loomed before him, dark and unfriendly and the wind whistled and whipped all around him as he strode towards the entrance.

“Allison!” He screamed, fighting against the noise of the storm as he sprinted inside, trying to ignore the cold against his bones, and the fear that slowly rose through his body as he found himself alone in the cave. He slowed down, walking through the cave, his eyes darting around in the darkness as he searched for any sign of Allison. “Allison, are you here?” As he journeyed deeper inside the cave, it grew quiet, with nothing but his echoed cries and footsteps. “Can you hear me?”

He began to regret his decision to enter the cave, and wondered why he had ran away from Cameron. As he continued into the cave, it was almost as if he sobered up, realising that he had made a series of, frankly, ridiculous decisions, wandering into a dark, abandoned cave, in the middle of a storm, on the off chance that a girl he had just met was somewhere inside. As he stood still for a second, thinking it over, he had to admit, he would never normally be so reckless, and he turned back towards the path he had taken, wondering if he should turn back and head home, to the lighthouse.

“Hamish!” The few moments of sensible thinking ended and Hamish felt his heart flutter at the sound of Allison’s voice. He ran towards it, not seeming to notice that he was running deeper and deeper into the twists and turns of the cave. “Hamish, please help me!” As if under a spell, he raced further into the cave, chasing the sweet voice as it seemed to bounce all over the cave. “Hamish, I’m so thirsty.” Her voice seemed weak and frail, which only spurred him on, his doubts were far behind him, and all he could do was run towards her.

There was a loud crash behind him, and for a moment, Hamish turned back, stunned to see the ceiling above collapsing and clattering to the floor as rocks formed a barrier between him and the outside world. It stopped him in his tracks and Hamish felt his heart pounding in his chest, suddenly panicking and revisiting the doubts that had plagued his mind moments before he heard Allison’s voice.

He was trapped. He was lost in a cave and completely trapped, in the middle of a storm, with nobody but his brother to look for him. His heart sank as he imagined that Cameron might not even want to look for him after how he had behaved. Leaning up against the wall as he caught his breath and stared in dismay at the wall of rocks and dust that blocked his path home, he once again felt filled with doubt.

“Hamish, I’m right here.” His mind went blank, and then went right back to Allison, as if she had heard his thoughts and knew he was wavering. He was suddenly back under her spell and running towards her voice, bursting down a passage way and coming out in a much larger clearing, where to his delight, behind a well in the centre of the ground, he saw a shadow that could only be his love.

“Allison, thank God.” He sighed, walking towards the shadow with a bright smile.

“I am the Mother of the Gods.” The voice was like Allison’s but with a weary, almost angry grit to it. It seemed to fill the entire cave, and it gave him pause, as he stopped before the well, now slightly apprehensive about approaching the shadow. “I am the Mother of the mountains.” The voice continued as the familiar doubt began to fill his mind once again. “I am the Mother of the storms and the seas.” Hamish stepped back slowly as the shadow moved a little closer, still cloaked in the darkness but much closer to him than he’d like. “I am the Mother of the Gods that you have long forgotten.” The shadow let out a low whistle and the well between them began to glow with light. “And I am the Goddess that your father stole from.”

The shadow stepped into the light and Hamish fell back in shock, backing away from the sight before him. A tall hag, her skin, haggard and worn. “To steal from a Goddess is a crime that can never be forgiven, Hamish.” She snarled, advancing on him as he begged his legs to let him stand, but found himself grounded by fear. Her thick, white hair flowed behind her as she walked, and as Hamish gaped in horror, he noticed her eyes. Despite the rest of her appearance, her eyes were instantly recognisable to him. Soft and sapphire blue. Allison’s eyes.

“I… I don’t understand.” He stammered, desperately searching around him for a way out as she stood over him with a wicked smile.

“This land is mine, but I shared it with you mortals.” She continued, kneeling down beside his frozen body. “All that I asked was that the well of my youth stay pure, so that I could drink, and care for what I had created.” Hamish glanced up at the well, and for a moment, as crazy as it sounded, he was sure that he could see his father, standing by the well, his face forlorn. “Your father stole the water, and made it impure.” She snarled, leaning so close that he could feel her breath against his cheeks. “So you will give me the youth he took from me.”

The light from the well swelled out into the room and pain shot through Hamish’s body as the hag stood, striding towards the well as the light strobed and flickered before him. He tried to run. He thought of nothing else, but his body was no longer his own, and as he cried out in agony, he felt himself crawling after the hag, following her shadow towards the well.

“Perhaps now your family will learn not to steal from a Goddess.” The voice cried out as he approached the well on his hands and knees.

“I’m sorry.” Hamish sobbed, looking down and seeing his hands covered in wrinkles, the skin, achingly thin and tinged a soft, icy blue. His hands under the power of the hag, he propped himself up against the wall of the well, pain purging every other feeling in his body as he looked down at his reflection, and saw a sight that he had never truly been able to imagine, and one that no human can ever really bear to face. He saw the last moments of a dying man. His breath, weak and ragged as tears fell from his eyes and got lost in the many lines that had appeared in his once handsome face.

“You were delicious, Hamish.” Said the voice, softer again, as Allison’s beautiful face joined his doom in the reflection below. “Just delicious.” In his last moments, he took one last look into the eyes that had led him down the path of his doom, and wondered if his father had been enchanted in the same way. He thought of his brother, and the heartbreak of his mother, who was about to lose another piece of her heart, and the tears fell, as he collapsed to the ground, falling to dust as he hit the hard dirt of the floor, never to be seen or heard from again.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Writing

What’s to be done?

My soulmate got lost in the sun,
her sapphire eyes could not resist the allure,
all over the place, for a time,
inked with my initials, when the clock struck midnight,
raised from the dead bedroom a dull life brings,
I watched her whisper my name, like a prayer, as she came to her senses.

Before I held the universe to ransom,
life was just a thing that happened to me,
and yet, as soon as I pointed a gun at the throat of fate,
clear skies, dry eyes and surprises surrounded me.
Kismet can be one hell of a provider, when she wants to be.

Long after the night ended,
over legions of land and oceans,
violet kisses, so sweet and soul consuming lingered upon her lips,
enchanted by my impatient hands and hungry soul,
so that she’d remember to hunt for me when the sun rose.

A mad girl is a determined girl,
so set on her dreams, that she can barely sleep to see them,
holding the clouds and smoke of the city in her hands,
linking them together, until she has something to rest her head upon,
inching closer to the wonders of escaping the waking world.

Honestly, I have been mad since the day I was made,
on the road to unravelling the second I started to breath,
like the blood covered lady of Inverness,
lost, like my lover, to the pursuit of power.
I’ve been told that she likes me like that,
senseless and spirited,
to her, dangerously devoted.
Everybody backs away, but she? She runs.
Runs towards me, her arms around me, because she’s never had it so good.