Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Writing

Northlay Falls – Chapter Two

My mother didn’t say a word all day after that ominous mumble.

“He dined early this month.”

I followed her into the kitchen and watched her as she began washing the breakfast dishes, pouring the porridge she had made for Ray and I in the bin, just carrying on as if her son was just sleeping in, instead of dead.

I tried to speak to her a few times, but my questions couldn’t break through her catatonia, so I gave up, grabbing my own coat and heading towards the lake.

Mr Hithe was still wandering the village, wailing out his warnings to ignorant ears, and as I walked past the same old people, who carried on, just like my mother, he caught up with me.

“You saw it too, didn’t you.” I nodded as we walked briskly in the direction of the swaying trees up ahead. “And it took your brother.” I nodded again, grateful that someone else seemed to understand what was happening. “I’m sorry, Ivy.” We were approaching the forest, and I fell into his arms, sobbing as he held me to his shoulder and waited for the storm of my grief to pass. “They do believe you, they just don’t want to rock the boat.”

That was the moment I had my epiphany about the boats. I suddenly remembered the many times I’d seen them coming and going across the lake. All the kids would go and watch them in the summer, always staring at the boats, early in the morning, never looking at the lake.

We didn’t have much else to do.

“We could get help on the boats.” I whispered, looking up at him. “If we get across, we can find somebody to help us.” He nodded, wiping the tears from my eyes.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” He asked, glancing around to be sure nobody would hear us. “This is a big risk.”

We both knew the stakes, but we had both lost too much to be deterred.

That night, I didn’t get much sleep, but the few hours I did get were filled with visions of the beast. It’s bright, soulless eyes, sharp teeth and long, leathery wings followed me through restless nightmares.

The next morning, I snuck out, just as the sun was rising, meeting him at the farmhouse. We trekked up towards the lake in silence, until we reached the forest, and I couldn’t resist asking the question that had plagued my mind since I’d seen the creature.

“What is that thing?” Mr Hithe stopped in his tracks, leaning up against a tree and sighing deeply.

“My father told me about how this place came to be.” He said, solemnly. “It used to be free, back when my great grandfather farmed here, but things just stopped growing.” The wind whistled and ruffled the leaves of the trees as he continued. “Livestock started to disappear and the people began to starve.” I sat on a tree stump beside him as he continued. “Nobody could understand why, but they sent a group of young men out to try and find help in one of the neighbouring villages.” He sighed again. “But before they made it out of the forest, they met a man, who promised to fix all their problems.”

“What did he say?” I asked, struck by the rising fear across his face.

“He said that if the people stayed in the village and fed him, he would keep make sure they were never went hungry again.” He motioned for us to continue walking, and I stood, rushing to keep up with his long strides. “It was a trap, of course, but they agreed, because they were hungry and ready to believe anything.”

“Who was he?” I asked as we went deeper into the forest, falling back into darkness as we walked where the sun could not reach.

“He was that thing you saw in…” Mr Hithe suddenly fell silent, grabbing me close and raising a finger to his lips. The wind whipped against the trees, and I could hear a loud, piercing shriek above us. “He appeared as a man to trick them.” Mr Hithe whispered as I looked up at the trees. “My great grandfather was convinced that the beast destroyed the land and took the animals, so that people would have no choice but to make a deal with that particular devil.”

Through a gap in the leaves, I saw the creature, seeming to circle the forest. His eyes, huge, shining like rubies as his wings flexed and flapped, shaking the trees with their force.

“But why here?” I shook in Mr Hithe’s arms as I asked the question. I needed to know how things had ended up this way, but it terrified me. The creature shrieked from high above again. I’d heard it so many times, but we had always been told so many cover stories. It was birds, or it was leaky pipes. None of them made sense, when I thought about it, but we had no choice to believe.

“Nobody ever knew why he came here.” Mr Hithe muttered, after a little hesitation. “I think he just wanted a place to toy with, and we were remote enough that we couldn’t get help and stop him.”

“Until now.” I whispered, hopefully, watching the beast get further away as his growls and snarls faded into the wind.

“Yes.” He replied, with a slight smile. “Until now.”

There was a deafening crash up ahead, and I clutched Mr Hithe’s hand tightly, hiding behind him as the ground shook.

“He’s just going into the lake to rest.” He mumbled, taking another few, slow steps. “The boat will be here soon.” Again, I’d heard those crashes before, but we were always told that it was an accident at a far away factory, or rock slides, and we just believed it, because there was nothing else to do.

We made our way through the forest until we reached the clearing by the lake. I was about to step forward when he grabbed my shoulders and stopped me.

“Slow down.” I nodded, mirroring him as he crouched behind one of the many bushes that surrounded the shore. “The search party didn’t tell the rest of the village what they’d signed up for.” He said, with another weary sigh. “By the time he took the first sacrifice, it was too late to stop him.” I nodded, not taking my eyes off the still, silent lake. “Desperate people will do very stupid things.”

In the distance, I could see the water starting to ripple, as the sound of the boat’s engine travelled, faintly towards us. There were a pile of boxes and crates filled with empty bottles by the edge of the forest, waiting to be picked up by the boat men. It turns out, our captor is big on recycling.

“There’s something you should know Ivy…” He whispered, turning to me, with a solemn stare. “The search party… one of them was your great, great grandfather.” My heart sank. I’d always been bitter about being trapped in that place, but knowing that it was partly my family’s fault made it sting just a little bit more. “And the boatmen are more familiar than you think.”

The boat was approaching the shore, loud and clear before us, the crew with their eyes fixed on the cargo that crowded the deck.

As they stepped off the boat and began unloading boxes onto the bank, Mr Hithe motioned for me to stay quiet, and crept, slowly towards the sailor closest to us.

He pulled the man by his neck into the bush, covering his mouth with a hand, throwing him to the ground and pressing his weight against his body. The man struggled, trying his best to scream but coming up short.

“Willard, meet your great, great Grandaughter, Ivy.” I stared in shock, as the captured sailor wriggled and fought back against Mr Hithe. It seemed so impossible, but I lived in a village ruled by a winged demon, so perhaps it was a little naive to believe that anything could be impossible. “And that pile of bones on the bank is your great, great grandson Ray.” There was a sting in my chest at the mention of my brother. All he was now was bones, and that’s all he’d ever be.

“But he’d be dead…” I whispered, unable to stop my curious stares at the man, who I had to admit, had a striking resemblance to my Father.

“The search party was granted eternal life in exchange for agreeing to the monthly sacrifice.” I looked down at the man, my ancestor, in disgust, unable to fight back the forming tears as I thought of my brother. “They just didn’t know that the beast tricked them into an eternal life of servitude.” For these traitors to live forever, while my brother lay, without rest, without life, as a pile of bones at the bank was an injustice that I couldn’t accept.

“You have to help us onto one of the boats.” I spat at him, watching him continue to struggle against Mr Hithe’s grasp. “You owe us that at least.” He shook his head, scratching at Mr Hithe’s hand, until he finally managed to free his mouth.

“I’m sorry. I can’t.” He cried, breathlessly.

“Why not?” Mr Hithe aimed a kick at Willard’s ribs as he spoke. “It’s not like they can kill you.”

“Yeah!” I kicked him too, consumed by rage and grief as I remembered that all that remained of my brother was a pile of bones, a few feet away. “You’re immortal, what’s the worst they can do to you?”

“Okay!” Willard groaned, clutching his hands to his body and trying to back away from his. “I’ll help!” Blood was pouring from his nose as he struggled to his feet. “Meet me back here in three days, just the girl.”

He didn’t fear death, but I’ve thought about our meeting, and I think that Willard fears his guilty conscience getting any heavier. As he cleaned himself up, and returned the the crowd of sailors, he didn’t say a word, but he collected up the bones of my Brother, placing them in one of the empty boxes, and returned to the bush we were hiding in, laying them solemnly at my feet.

“Don’t drink from the pubs.” He said, quietly before he turned to leave. “It’s all tainted.” After that, he was gone, running back to the boat, leaving us with many questions and no answers.

We watched the boat creep away from the shore and off into the lake, and then we headed back to the village.

It was difficult to act normal, knowing all that I had come to know, but it was important, if I was ever going to free us all from the beast.

I had dinner, in silence, did my homework in silence, and went to bed in silence, but I barely slept, my mind, racing with thoughts of what would happen when I next saw Willard, and if I’d ever escape the village of the damned.

It was all up to me.

Posted in Creative Writing, Writing

All Through The Night

Emlyn was beginning to get tired. It had been a long day of driving and he was desperate to get some sleep. The quiet, country road stretched out in front of him, with nothing but slowly, swaying trees either side of the road for company as the shy moon hid behind the clouds.

His eyes grew heavy and he thought about pulling over somewhere to rest for an hour or two, and by happy coincidence, or maybe dastardly design, that was when Emlyn saw the sign for “Ruth’s”.

It was small and modestly lit, so he almost missed it, but there it was. A small sign up ahead, reassuring and essential. Emlyn headed right for it, almost salivating at the thought of a hotel room with an actual bed, after hours and hours of driving through the Welsh countryside.

He wouldn’t have made the trip at all, but his mother always insisted at Easter.

“Emlyn Robert White!” She’d cry. “I want this whole family together, just once.” Hearing the same demand every year made it seem a little less reasonable, if he was being honest, but nevertheless, he made the drive up (or down, depending on which way you hold the map) from London to his childhood home of Prestatyn.

He would have been there already, but as usual, Emlyn had dawdled and dithered, perhaps hoping to be late, to avoid the greeting chorus of “You never come to visit!” and “When am I getting a grandchild?” So, a four and a half hour drive had turned into twice that, and he was ready to get some rest at the hotel before finishing the last hour of the drive in the morning.

Emlyn would come to regret his dawdling and dithering, but as is often the case, he didn’t realise it yet, and that takes us back to the car, his heavy eyes, and the lonely night with just one, small light of hope before him.

He followed the sign down to a small side lane, and came across a house. It looked empty, with no lights in the windows. The door loomed large in front of him and there was no sign of life anywhere.

He checked his watch, hoping that ten fifteen wasn’t too late to check in. As he raised his hand to the door to knock on the door, a voice behind him stopped him in his tracks.

“Fy ngŵr!” Emlyn spun around, searching for the source of the shrill voice, but there was nobody to be found. He backed up against the door, breathless as he looked across the empty scene before him. There was his car, the lonesome road, and the slowly swaying trees. Nothing else. He must be tired, simply seeing (or hearing) things out of exhaustion.

“Get a hold of yourself…” Emlyn whispered to himself as he managed to get his breathing back to a sensible rhythm. He must have been imagining things. Voices don’t just appear in the Welsh countryside. Not as early as ten fifteen, anyway.

“Hello love.” Another voice behind him, Emlyn jumped in fright as the door opened and he fell into the hallway of the house. Staring up, he was greeted by the sweet smile of a woman that he could only assume was the aforementioned ‘Ruth’. Her eyes were kind and she reached out to help him to his feet. “Are you looking for a bed for the night?”

Emlyn nodded, gratefully and tried to return her smile. “Yes.” He muttered, brushing himself down. “Please.” He continued, remembering his manners. She guided him into the house, simply decorated but cozy and settled him down on the sofa.

“Do you want a drink, my love?” She asked, heading to the kitchen as he stared around the living room. It was a quaint little place, and he was grateful for a little warmth and comfort after hours in the car. The fireplace roared, and he stood to take a proper look around.

“Do you get a lot of visitors?” He called out, examining the many photos of Ruth with smiling guests that littered the mantelpiece.

“Oh yes, my love.” Her reply came from the kitchen. “It’s the kind of place people never leave for too long.” Emlyn nodded, looking down at his phone, and frowning at the lack of signal. “I’m sure you’ll be very comfortable here.” Ruth appeared from the kitchen, two mugs in hand, with a big smile.

“Do you have a phone I can use?” Emlyn asked, taking one of the mugs with a grateful smile. “My Mum will be worried about where I’ve got to.”

“Oh, of course!” Ruth placed her own mug on the coffee table and led Emlyn towards the phone, which was situated on a little table just by the stairs. “Your room is the one right at the top of the stairs, when you’re ready.”

Emlyn watched Ruth ascend the stairs as he dialled his Mother’s number. The dial tone was soon replaced by a voice, and while I wish, dear reader that I could tell you it was Emlyn’s Mother, alas, I cannot.

“Fy ngŵr!” Emlyn dropped the phone in shock. His eyes darting around the empty hallway, knowing he wouldn’t find anything but searching anyway. He hung up the phone, taking one deep breath, and then another, deciding that all he needed was some sleep.

Sadly, sleep would be in short supply for Emlyn. He took himself off to bed, but he just couldn’t quite get to sleep. His body was buzzing with anxiety, and just as he’d manage to quiet it, the voice would return to taunt him. The voice wouldn’t show itself, even after Emlyn pleaded. It just cried out those same words and wailed loudly, right in his ear.

“Fy ngŵr!” The voice cried out again, just as chilling as the first time he had heard it.

“I don’t speak bloody Welsh!” Emlyn whined in frustration, securing the pillow over his head to try and drown out the incessant weeping and wailing of the voice.

“Emlyn…” Now, that, he understand very clearly. He opened his eyes, slowly moving the pillow away and staring around the room. It still seemed normal, except the window, over on the far side of the room. It had been closed when he had gone to sleep, he was certain of it, but now, the curtains flitted in and out of the open window as moonlight poured in, and a shadow lurked behind, seemingly staring right at him.

Emlyn stayed up as long as he could, desperately trying to figure out what he should do. The voice began chanting those same words, over and over, again and again, and all Emlyn could do was… well, nothing. For hours, he sat on the bed, in a war of tired stares with the open window, and eventually, he lost, as he was always doomed to do.

At a little after three, Emlyn awoke again. The voice was quiet now, barely a whisper, just behind his left ear.

“Emlyn.” The whisper was so gentle, and though he tried to ignore it, he was certain that he could feel a cold, clammy hand, slowly stroking his cheek. “Perygl, fy ngŵr.” He just wanted freedom from the torment of this strange, horrid night, but it would never come.

“I don’t know what you want.” Emlyn sobbed. He didn’t even remember when he’d started to cry, his tears born of frustration and terror. It had to be a bad dream, he told himself. Oh, how I wish, dear reader, that I could tell you it was a bad dream, but alas.

“Fy ngŵr.” The voice seemed to be drifting away, fading out as it travelled across the room, and for a moment, he thought he might finally be alone.

Emlyn looked up from the pillow, as a long, spindly leg crept through the window, followed by another. The voice called out again, from the window as twisted, skeletal arms poked through.

“Fy ngŵr.”

Emlyn sat up, speechless and shaking as the creature towered before him. A hag, tall and thin with long, sharp claws and huge, black wings on it’s back stood across from him, the wings flexing and flapping with every breath that it took.

As the creature spoke, Emlyn observed that the creature’s mouth was full of sharp fangs “Perygl, fy ngŵr.” He shuddered, enthralled in it’s glassy gaze, unable to look away as it cried out to him again. “Perygl, fy ngŵr.”

The creature stood by the open window, staring over at Emlyn, with an almost sad expression. Speaking only two words, words that he would never understand.

“Fy ngŵr.”

The creature pointed towards the bedroom door, but Emlyn didn’t dare to look away from it, and as their eyes met again, he could swear he saw tears falling from the creature’s empty black eyes, down onto it’s pale, sunken cheeks.

The creature reached out a hand, whispering his name softly, as searing pain shot through his body. Emlyn finally broke the creature’s gaze and let his eyes drop. The sheets were slowly being painted with the story of his demise, his blood, seeping through the soft cotton as a shadow pushed him down onto the bed. He stared up, growing weaker by the second, Ruth’s manic face coming into focus, as she drove a knife into his chest, over and over. Just behind her, the weeping creature, it’s eyes streaming with tears as Emlyn struggled for breath.

Morning arrived slowly, but Emlyn didn’t greet it. You see, Ruth was right when she said that her humble little hotel was the kind of place you’d stay forever. She just didn’t mention that he wouldn’t have a choice.

Much like the erratic driver on the highway, tailgating you to tell you about the killer in your backseat, the mysterious creature that Emlyn feared had spent several, futile hours trying to tell him of his fate, but alas, dear reader, the language barrier was just too much to overcome.

Posted in Blog, Spooky Season

Old Scratch – Day One

This will sound mad. I know it does, but I have to tell someone.

There are scratches up and down my legs. I sleep alone, and have no pets, so I’ve no idea where they came from. This has happened every night for a week, so I’m writing it down now. I don’t really know why, I guess I just need to be sure that I’m not inventing stuff in my head.

Last night, I dreamt of a corridor, and I have done for the last week, but last night was the clearest dream. I could see the emptiness that seemed to go on forever, a dim light up ahead that faded away, but flickered back to life, over and over, as if it was teasing me. A cruel light that seemed like it was self aware, like it could sense my fear. Again, I am aware that I sound mad, but I promise you, I’m not. At least, I hope I’m not.

I walked forward, even though I didn’t want to, and I could feel the air turn to ice with every step. The floor felt frosty, and I was afraid to look down.

His laughter was loud. I don’t know who. I couldn’t see him, but I knew he was there. Him. Maybe in the darkness before me, maybe in the shadows that lurked behind, sometimes above me, and sometimes on the ground, where I couldn’t look. It seemed to be everywhere. A smoky, maniacal laugh. Nothing more, just laughter. One voice that seemed to bounce around the corridor.

I felt like if I reached the end, I’d be safe, but something in me knew I wouldn’t make it. I can’t explain why, I just looked ahead and felt that my fate was already sealed.

Last night was the night that I got close. As I approached the light, I saw a hand holding it. It was a lantern, held by a hand that crept from the darkness. A single, skeletal hand, swinging the lantern to and fro. The light was brighter as I got closer, flashing madly.

Yellow. Red. Yellow. Red. Yellow. Red.

I reached out to touch it. My hands shaking with the rest of my body. It was so close, and I wondered if maybe I could be safe, after all.

Darkness.

My eyes snapped open and I was back in bed, alone. I pulled back the covers, to see the marks I knew would be there. Deep scratches up and down my legs. He had visited.

Posted in Creative Writing, Writing

Ella at The End Of The World – Episode Forty Two

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It’s been raining all day, which just adds to the depressing nature of our situation, really. Mary made us all a lovely lunch though, and Jude found some board games in one of the bedroom, so it’s not so bad. It kind of feels like Christmas. When you’d get full up with food, consider murdering someone over Monopoly, and then have a nap during the Queen’s Speech, except, the Queen hasn’t bothered to show her face, from behind her heavily guarded palace walls.

I wonder what’s going on with her. The palace has been silent throughout all of this, so I assume it’s all fine, but then again, they could be avoiding addressing the public because she’s infected.

Boris was on TV today, looking dreadful, but a bit more alive than the last time we saw him. The colour is coming back to his face, but he’s dead behind the eyes. I think the government’s attempts to put him on TV to reassure the public is actually making things worse. He didn’t speak much, mainly just mumbling agreement with Matt Hancock, who did the heavy lifting during the statement. No idea where Rishi Sunak went. There’s loads of social media chatter about how he made a run for it, and was spotted in his constituency, telling people to try and leave the country, because the government have lost control of the virus, but all the videos just buffer forever and never play, which is… suspicious.

Matt Hancock looked terrified the whole time, and stayed very socially distanced from old BoJo. He kept fiddling with his sleeves, while he was announcing the same old “Stay at home if you can, but everything is fine” nonsense, and I swear I saw blood on it. He looked pretty pale and sweaty too. Wishing him the best, even though he and his pals don’t give a toss what happens to us lol

Posted in Creative Writing, Writing

Ella at The End Of The World – Episode Forty One

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We’ve found her! She’s shaken but okay.

The church house got overrun because creepy Celia couldn’t resist more potential victims, apparently. A guy with a bite turned up, unturned, but still bitten, and she let him in, convinced her religious powers could cure him, but of course, they couldn’t. The infected that got him followed him there and unleashed hell.

According to Mary, it was just her and a few of the members that managed to get away. Celia refused to leave, because she believed her Goddess would save her….

They got a few miles on foot before we told them to stop. Mary said she tried to convince the others to set up some defences, but they just wanted to pray, because they too believed their Goddess would save them, and, well, she obviously sided with the infected.

Mary managed to escape in all the chaos and hid herself in some woodland. We didn’t even find her, she found us. She ran out onto the road, and we almost hit her, but she’s safe now, and that’s all that matters.

Her and Martin are still not talking, kind of. She talks but Martin pretends he can’t hear her, but he smiled when he almost ran her over, and I like to think it’s because he was happy that she was alive, rather than him enjoying the idea of mowing down his mother.

She keeps apologising for taking us to The Garden in the first place, and for trusting Celia, which I can understand, but we’ve all made mistakes in this, so I told her not to worry. I did tell her that out of earshot of Martin though, because he’s mad enough at me already, for making him come and get her.

We’re heading back to the farm now, and should be there by morning (hopefully). I can’t wait for a bath.