John Andrew AKA “Big Jack” did live, his ghost still haunts The ship Inn. Which is shown here at the bottom of the Saltburn hills, Cleveland, England. As recently as 2009, spiritual encounters had been witnessed there. The rest is fiction.
Standing atop the hills above the Ship inn at Satlburn, you can see why it was a smuggler's hideaway, the hills around are steep and anyone trying to catch you would be easily out run.
It was there that an eerie experience happened a while ago.
I was standing watching the bay, with its shallow beach strewn with pebbles, when I noticed what I thought was the sea mist rolling in. This was different to the usual sea mists as it was a lot mores dense.
I was just about to go and investigate, when I felt a hand on my shoulder.
“Tha don’t want to go down there laddy.”
Turning I saw and old man, with a grizzled face wearing a sailors cap and an old rope knit sweater, as they used to at sea long ago.
“What do you mean?” I gingerly asked.
“You think, yon mist is from the sea, well if you look and listen, you will find out.”
‘I did wonder why it looked more dense, and grey than any mist I had encountered before.’
Listening carefully I could hear what at first sounded like a roaring tide, but having been told to listen carefully I opened my mind. “Am I right, that sounded like cannon fire?”
“Tha’s right there young man, now watch and I will tell you the story later.”
As I stood watching, two ships came around the headland, one flying a strange flag, the other flying the flag of the excise men of the King.
With cannons firing the King’s ship was forcing the other one further into the shallows, knowing how treacherous the beach I waited. And there it was, the sound seamen hate, no matter what country. The sounds of your ship running aground, the timbers tearing apart as waters flooded the lower decks. As I watched, from the smuggler's ship; I assumed it was smugglers otherwise why would they have been run aground. Five men came running ashore, wading slowly through the waters. The King’s ship sent two longboats ashore to chase down the men.
As the men stumbled up the pebbly beach, feet slipping on the wet rocks, they were met by a hail of musket fire, from the soldiers of the crown, all five lay dead on the rock strewn beach, blood washing to and fro in the water.
“Finally got you, Will Harrison,”the captain of the guard called.
Turning around to go back to the longboats, the soldiers were met by a volley of pistol fire from the inn, the ensuing fire fight last only a few minutes, as the men inside were not going to expose themselves to musket fire, and the soldiers could not possibly take the inn, without a siege as it backed on to the steep cliffs behind, and the men inside had a clear field of fire, any assault was just madness.
“That was the end of that,”the seaman said.
“How do you know it so well?”I queried.
“I ran the inn for the next 40 yrs, my ghost is still here.”
“So you are…”
“Yes. None other than John Andrew, ‘Big Jack’
, ‘King of the smugglers’and he most feared of all smugglers in the area.”
A day or two late I was standing looking out across Satlburn bay, I could see what I thought was the sea mist rolling in, with the rip tides and shallow beach, Satburn is a death trap for unknowing seamen, as it is so easy to go aground on the shallows. “Not again,” I
muttered as I looked at the mist.It appeared to thickening into the same grey, cloying fog that had hid the ghosts of the past last week, as they had chased the smugglers ashore. “It can’t be happening again,”
I muttered thinking nobody was in earshot.
“Aye laddie, it is,”came the voice from behind me. “Surely it is.We call them 'Smuggling fogs'
they cling to the shoreline, only a true seaman from the area or someone desperate, would try to get to land in them.”
Vaguely in the mists, I could make out the shape of a vessel approaching the headland. “If I am not wrong, isn't that the Prospero heading ashore.”
“No, lad, you are right, she is coming in.”
“ The story is she was lost at sea in a storm, only John Andrew survived.”
“That was his version to hide the truth.”
“What did happen then?”
As I watched the mist, the Prospero came closer inland, still wide of the headland point and in full sail.Then there was a terrible wrenching sound, as she hit the hidden rocks and keeled over. Men were trying to get to the boats and above all else one man stood taller. 'Mad Jack’
as he was known, stood on the gunnels and shouted to the crew.”Any man that follows me will be killed.”
Knowing his reputation, the crew stayed still, even though they out numbered him.They had seen him take four or five men down at a time in a fight, and were not keen to risk their lives.
As John Andrew aka ‘Mad Jack’
leapt for the only boat and made for land. A gun fired on the ship, and a crewman fell to the floor.
“Right lads, we can’t chase him down but we will catch him one day.”Mason Friggett, the Prospero's mate said. “John Andrew, may you and you your family be cursed by the Ship Inn, and may your spirits never leave the house,”
Richard Jacklin, the coxswain yelled at the back of the rowing boat.
With the mist clearing, I could just make out the shapes of men climbing the rocks on the headland and coming around the point. Misty shrouds were now moving towards the inn, engulfing the whole bay. “What is happening now?” I asked.
“History is folding, in the mists, you are getting a chance to see the real John Andrew.” “Andrew, we want's ours,”
called one voice.
Another yelled, “If you don’t give it to us, we’ll take it by force this time.”
A voice from the inn yelled “Simon Miggins, you always were a hothead, you can't get me.”
“This time John Andrew, we are prepared for your treachery.”
“Jacklin, might have known, you would be here, never did trust you.”
There was an unearthly roar as the Prospero let off a broadside. The four cannons fired, although landing short of the target, the cannonballs had the desired effect. Unsettling Andrew for a short while, but adding to the mists with a powdery haze that hid the men as they crept up the pebbled beach. The windows were rocked and cracked by the shockwaves. The men opened fire at the front, where Andrew was holding ground, firing at will but with deadly accuracy, one shot caught Andrew in the shoulder, and spun him to the floor. “Right, get him,”
The crew rushed forward and dragged the bleeding and severely wounded Andrew from the house. “Where's our share of all the loot, Andrew?”
“Everything is tied in to the house now, you cannot get it,”Andrew laughed. “Right men, we can’t have the money he owes, so we’ll take it out of him,”
called Friggett. “Rope him up, we’ll take him on the Prospero.
Remembering his strength, Jacklin made sure Andrew was semi-conscious as the crew tied him up, and dragged him to the boat, heading out to sea and the Prospero. “Okay me hearties, we’ll keel haul him then,”
Friggett yelled, as one length of rope was handed to young Paul Marler, as he swam under the Prospero, a short while later emerging smiling.
The crew tied both arms to the ends of the rope, as they pushed Andrew to the gunnels, and hurled their injured former captain overboard.. “Heave to lads,”
called Miggins.”We don’t want us to be outdone by him dieing on us.”
The laughter I heard was like an evil wind going over bones of the long dead.
I watched both in horror at this cruel punishment; which involved the man been dragged under the keel of the ship, barely able to breathe. Andrew seemed to be still breathing, despite the gunshot wounds and the keel-hauling.I guessed the crew were counting on his immense strength to get him through, as part of the punishment. Barely breathing, he was dragged out the last time. Untied and sent ashore in his boat, it hit the pebbles, and tipped him onto the beach. “ Right lads, set her sails for the seas, we have had our day finally,”
Turning to query what had gone on, all I saw was a whiff of pipe smoke, as the old sailor disappeared.
Seeing my puzzlement, one gent said “That were Paul Marler, you were talking to then.”
This story along with others is for sale from me, for a donation to my writing costs at my blog :- http://hereiamattheedge.blogspot.co.uk/
Grab a copy of my new top book, with the end of 2012 and EL James and her copycats maybe the ghosts are coming after you again and you have to believe I am pleased, as that is my top genre.
Part of this is based on fact. In the mid 1980s, I used to listen to the short-wave radio transmissions from around the world. One such broadcast from the old USSR talked about a double train crash, involving nuclear waste. The news never got out.
“ICQ Kiev3 to ICQBristol4, over.”
“ICQBristol4 to ICQKiev3, over.”
“Hello Al, how are things at your end?”
“Hi Carl, just the same as usual, nothing much happens here sadly. I can do with some excitement,” I said with resignation.
“Yes, sometimes it is like that. Here we are still hiding from the authorities, if they find this transmitter. It could be a camp for us,” Carl, my Russian radio friend replied. “Have you heard from Joe in Texas yet?”
“No, I was thinking this call would be from him. I’m a bit worried, he hasn’t been in contact for weeks and that isn’t like him, usually he is so full of himself.”
“Al, maybe this pandemic is hitting him worse than he is letting on. You know those Americans don’t like to tell you how they feel.”
“That’s so true Carl, of all traits they have, that is the one I could never get used to,” I paused, thinking how to frame the next question. “Have you made contact with people in your area?”
“No. All radios are confiscated and smashed, the authorities are trying to contain and control the information, but there are still free thinkers here. That is what worries them. How about you, have you made contact?”
“I had some luck a few days ago. I picked up a signal from some out of the island ham. He had no idea what the heck it was all over.”
“He’s lucky then,” Carl replied. “I was I was the same. I’ve seen children with bleeding eyes and skin peeling, crying in the arms of their dead or dying parents. It’s so sad to see and know you daren’t go near them for risking contagion.”
“Our variation is just as bad, people with open wounds and sores oozing pus as they scream. The trouble here is that ours can travel in the air for up to fifty feet and lay dormant for days. We don’t know where to go or how to contain it.”
“I was listening to a broadcast the other night from a ham in France. She was desperately trying to contact somebody outside of Lyon to tell them what was happening in her area.”
There was a pause as my friend thought about his reply, you could have heard a feather fall when he said “This is far worse than anybody could have imagined, I heard a broadcast from Genoa. Some man there is trying to make contact with Dusseldorf but all he can hear is white noise.”
“You do realise that we are the only source of information, Carl. All telecoms went down within minutes and now all you get is just short wave transmissions.”
“Yes. The government here is running itself ragged trying to find us and kill these broadcasts.”
“I think all governments are doing the same, Carl. I‘ve heard nothing from Sweden, China or South Africa for days and it’s worrying that this can spread so far so quickly. It’s only a day or two since I caught that snatched conversation from your area and already most of the world has gone dead.”
All the time this chatter was going on, in the background I could hear screams and rifle fire. I remember thinking “If you need to go, just leave the radio Carl.”
Then I felt I had no choice but to say “Carl, I can hear rifles and screams for God’s sake, if you need to go, just go!”
“Thank you for you deep concern, Al. But, if I leave I have nowhere to go, if they don’t get me. The virus will and I want to stay on as long as possible tonight, you could be the last voice I hear.”
Behind his fearful tones, I could hear boots heading up the stairs.
“Al, before I go, there is something the world needs to know. Two days ago there was a train crash near here. One train was carrying Uranium 235 and the other a deadly germ virus. Separate, they are deadly, but combined...,”
Carl didn’t need to end what he was saying. U235 has a half-life of 703,800,000 years.
The next sound I heard was a boot splintering his door and then AK-47. There was no sound for minutes. The next voice I heard wasn’t Carl “We have your radio frequencies. We WILL come for you next!”
The sun's lazy rays lit up the darkened room as Joe Barron woke from his sleep. Joe, a brown haired airman from Manchester in England was the tail gunner on a Lancaster during a bombing raid over Germany in 1943. “Where are am I?” he asked. Looking around, all he saw were men on beds. Mostly covered in bandages or being nursed back to health from various injuries. Trying to sit, he found that his lower body strength had gone and all he could manage was to pull himself up to the pillows, “Nurse!” he called out in despair.
Nurse Amelia Cotton answered his plea. Amelia was one of those girls who seemed destined for nursing at an early age; imbued with endless patience and kindness for all her wards, she was loved and respected by all.
Amelia walked across the darkened ward to her newly awakened patient “Morning, Joe how are you feeling?”
Looking around, Joe said “Confused. Where am I? And what happened? The last thing I recall, I was firing at the enemy planes then there was a flash and flames then I woke here.”
“Facts are few, Joe. We haven't had any accounts of enemy aircraft shot down but with so much going on it will take time. Take you time and see if you can recall what happened?”
Amelia helped Joe rise to a semi-sitting position and pumped his pillows as he sat back, still confused and not totally aware of his surroundings he tried to recall events of the flight. Amelia pulled the old chair up next to his bed as Joe though about the night raid.
“We'd just turned after our bombing run and were climbing to give some cover to the planes behind us when I saw it. We were on the return flight, flying at about 20,000 feet which was close to the ceiling for the the plane when came under attack from a Ju 88a dive bomber. It all happened so fast, we never had to think it was just reactions. All I heard was the skipper shouting, 'Keep 'em' open lads! We're gonna have a rough time now.'
Then everybody opened up on the planes, guns going off, cases flying all over. As I was aiming at one of the planes...” Joe paused to think of what happened.
Amelia rose and ended his sentence “The plane vanished and was replaced by a bright light hovering in the sky.”
“How did you know?”
“I have been here for four years and heard the story many times.” Amelia replied.
“Nurse, can I have a cup of Rosie Lea, please? I've been out so long, I'm right parched.”
“Certainly Joe, I won't be long. I just have to warm the pot for your tea. You can call me, Amelia.”
“Thanks, Amelia. How long have I been here?”
“I'll let the doctor explain that for you, Joe.”
“Explain what? This IS 1943 isn't it!”
Joe closed his eyes as he tried to think of the recent past as he did he fell asleep. In the back ground he could hear a strange whirring noise. Living near the station, he recognized the sounds of aircraft engines building speed up but this was a higher pitch than that. Straining to hear and trying to remember the type of engines he was would recognize, he heard a voice from another bed.
The man turned to Joe and said, “You won't recognize it lad! I tried for months, never heard anything like it before and I'm on my second tour with the USAAF. I've been all over from the UK to Germany, Japan to the Aleutian islands and never heard it.”
“How can you have been to Germany and Japan. There are no allied bases there! We're at war with 'em.'”
“Joe isn't it. You have a lot to learn about this place. My name is Jack Merris and I was in the USAAF during the late 1980's.”
“I have heard that you Yanks had a good imagination but that it stupid.”
“You may think so now but in a week or two, you will not be so sure of yourself.”
Joe's curiosity was now running wild “What do you mean, Jack?”
Jack paused, this was Joe's moment to hear the unusual. How to put it? Would he understand the idea? “Okay, there is no easy way, Joe. I'll tell you it straight.”
“Tell me what,Jack?”
“The next time the nurse does the rounds, you watch her closely.”
“What do you mean?”
Jack went on “I could explain but you wouldn't believe me-hell I didn't at first-it's better that you see and hear for yourself, Joe.”
That night as the door to the ward opened and Amelia started her rounds, Joe caught his first sight of the puzzle. Watching the other men in the ward, Joe could see that there were many nationals from all over the world and all spoke to the nurse with no problem. “Odd but not too strange.”
Joe thought until he looked closer.
Not only were they different nationalities but their uniforms were strange too, there were new uniforms that he had never seen. Made from fibers that could hold the creases and only needed a quick shake to go back to form.
Keeping a close eye on her, Joe saw that as she moved across the floor, where she passed there was a strange greenish glow. Looking at the glow, Joe was suddenly hit by a bolt of light that left him stunned. Blinking quickly, he tried to focus but found that his eyes had lost the ability.
“Nurse!” he called out in panic.
“Joe, you really shouldn't have looked at that. You'll be okay in a while.”
“What was that strange light I saw as you crossed the floor?”
Amelia paused trying to think how to explain the inexplicable to an airman of 1943. “You are not going to believe me but that was time passing across the ships bow. As a ship creates a bow wave on the seas, we created this in time and space.”
“You've got that right, I've read H.G.Wells but that was fiction. Good as it was, it will never happen.”
“That's what I thought.” Jack added, “In my time, men had stood on the moon but time travel was still for the future.”
Joe was getting more confused by the minute “You talk as if this is the future to me, yet the past to you.”
Amelia replied “In here time has no sense-we are out of sync with it-we are in all time zones, yet not in any.”
“Amelia, if you are a nurse. How do you know all that?” Joe asked. “Here comes the punch line.”
“To you, I appear as a WW2 nurse, so that you were not startled. To the others I appear in a form that they chose to accept.”
“So what is your true form?”
“Form? I have none. I am all things to all men yet nothing at all.” Amelia replied. “As you have seen the lights, you can look out of the windows now, Joe.”
Turning, Amelia opened a small oblong box-like object on the side of the wall. The covers slowly drew back with a slow hissing sound and Joe raised himself in the bed to look out. In the background all he could see was an array of stars whooshing by.
“What the hell!” he exclaimed in shock.
“What you see flying out there is what your scientists call the Milky Way,” the voice of a man replied. “your peoples are still trying to explore our worlds, that is why we came to yours. To see what you are like. We have noticed your aggressiveness to each other, yet at other times there can be great kindness too. The most frightening thing is that so few people believe we exist out here. Which is the reason for seizing you.”
“Sorry guv, you lost me back there.”
“To us, people are like radio receivers and certain people are tuned into our wavelength, that is why they see and perceive elemental messages.”
“So you mean, those cranks are really picking messages up after all!”
“Exactly, Joe. We had to make it look that way to protect our homes. But now...” the man's voice tailed off.
“I didn't like that ending, Doc.”
“We have to explore new worlds as ours is devastated by winds and earthquakes that get stronger every day and you are the vanguard of the next generation.”
Just as Joe was going to reply, there was a bright flash and he was thrown back against the bed.
“Lord above, Joe. Do that again and I'll kill ya, never mind the bloomin' Gerry planes.”
Getting groggily to his feet, Joe looked around at the surroundings. He was in a hospital ward but this time there was no strange lights just boarded windows. “What happened to me?”
Phil Kerry said “We were flying through the flack a couple of nights ago and you got raked with .50 shells from the Ju 88a we had on our tail. The engines caught fire and we went into a dive, with the plane on fire and your chute in the fuselage, you decided to jump out and take the chances of surviving rather than getting burned alive.”
“I can remember that part, Phil. What about the flash and the lights in space and the weeks I've been away. I was seized and taken by an alien craft, you know.”
“I told ya before, mate. Reading those novels will make you queer in 't' head.” Phil said shaking his head, “You bailed out over Germany and the next thing we heard was a message from the underground saying a strange airman claiming to have been aboard a flying ship was in their hands. We arranged to pick you up and you've been here in and out of your sleep for the last three days.”
After a few weeks recovering Joe was allowed back to base. The first thing he did was go to the hangers to check the planes but when he got to within fifty feet of the Lancasters he froze and couldn't move.
The Flight-Sargent told him to see the camp doctor. After making an appointment Joe went back to the canteen for a brew.
Later that afternoon, he was leaving the surgery when the phone rang.
“Doctor Norrie, how can I help?”
All Joe could hear was the Doctor, it didn't take a genius to put question to the answers.
“The freezing up is natural after such a shock, sir.”
“Physically, even after the fall he is still 100% fit.”
“Mentally, I would say about 85%”
A pause, then the doctor said something that froze Joe's blood in his veins
“There is one thing I can't explain. A strange green glow behind his eyes.”
“No, sir. I haven't seen or heard of anything like it before.”
A link to the real story:
Since her lover died, Janine had moved to the coast for solitude and for the peaceful reminder of her man and his love of the tides. Helmut had always been most at peace when he could hear the tides and see the waves.
Three years ago, he was on a fishing trip when his foot got trapped in a loop of rope that sprang loose from the capstan. It had happened so quickly that she didn't have a chance to take in the horror. One minute they were happy, chatting about going back to his cabin, the next she was alone on the deck-with only his cap to remember him by.
From that day on, it had turned her into nothing more than a shell of the lovely lady she was before. Her once luscious black hair was now straggly and unkempt. She had lost so much weight that her clothes hardly touched her body as she walked. Her frail body longed for the touch of his gnarled hands, a touch she would never feel again.
That summer night was forever etched in her mind. What should have ended with a moonlight dance, happily splishy-splashing in the tide had ended with her crying by the dock as she fought the impulses to sail away and drown herself in the sad memory of a love left unfulfilled. They had made such great plans and now they were ashes.
Walking back to her little shack by the beach; the gulls cawing in the air as the boats came into harbour. With tears in her eyes she climbed the small hill they had chosen for their house to stand on with its lovely views of the seas and harbour-it should have brought happiness but all it brought was pain.
Opening the door, she caught the salty tang of the wind on her cheeks. “Strange?” she thought.
Closing the door behind her, she went across the room and into the kitchen to put the kettle on for a cup of tea that she always took at midday, to warm herself up after the walk along the sea walls.
The cold winds had blown the sands from the beach onto the shore and she was covered in sand, so she decided a shower was in order.
Walking slowly with her head bowed Jannine turned the hot tap on and mixed in the cold to create the right steam to clean the salt and sand off. Being far away from people the shower had a window with a view of the cove below, nobody came this far off the tracks so privacy was not an issue to consider.
As she looked out of the window, tears flowing for her loss. Jannine thought she saw a familiar figure cross the path below “ No, it can't be Helmut. I just wish he was here.”she thought.
With the relaxing steam easing her tired limbs, she sat on the stool they had kept in the shower for their games of love. The firmness of the wood on her bottom reminded her of the reality of her loss-on the stool, they had carved their initials to show their devotion to each other.
Wiping the steam off the window, Jannine got a shock. The stranger was outside and as she looked at him he stared back through the steamy glass.
Quickly grabbing a towel to cover herself she dashed to the door to see who it was-nobody was in sight-yet he had been there only seconds ago. The more she thought about it, the more weird it became.
Going back inside, she noticed a familiar aroma-”Now I am creeping myself out!” she said under her breath “Helmut's gone and now I'm smelling his pipe tobacco.” Going back to the shower, Jannine thought she saw a figure in her shower “What the hell are you doing here-creep!” she yelled.
The figure never moved but stood with its back to her. It then slowly dissolved into the steaminess as if it was never there at all. Still shaking, she sat on the stool before she collapsed with knowledge that somebody could be watching her.
With the warm water running down her back and thighs, Jannine began her wash. All the time wondering who it was ? And why had it shown itself to her? As the steam cleansed her body and she relaxed, she began to feel totally at ease. In her dream state she could feel his touch again and smell the salt on his body as he got off the boat after the fishing trips. Out of the corner of her eye she caught a glance of something merging with the steam and forming a body. Gently the figure merged with the steam and smoothed her body as she melted in into its warm and loving care.
Not wanting to hear the answer she still needed to ask the question “Is it you love?”
No reply came back, so Jannine turned to see what was there. All she saw was a steamy curtain with water running down it.
Casting her mind back to the fateful day and the weeks after it, all she could recall was the line in the Gazzette. “Helmut Charbrier, skipper of “The lost shores” was lost at sea today, presumed dead. No body has been recovered.”
At the time, Jannine knew with rip-tides, and under-currents and rock ledges, his body may never be found. Had he come back to her?
The mind-- friend or foe?
This story started a few years ago when Adam Peterson found he had been born with an illness that left his joints with no muscle support. He accepted at that time sooner or later he would be in a wheelchair, this was his worst fear. That he would become a burden to his loved ones. However being the man he was he was not just going to sit in the corner and wait for the inevitable to happen.
“I will go on as long as I can,” he told friends, family and the doctor.
They all agreed this was the best way to fight it, battle to the end, enjoy life as much as he could and be glad for what he had the chance to do with it. This was also a two-edged sword as the more he fought the weaker the joints became. What he could do one week, the next week it was too much.
Time passes and his joints got weaker soon walking became too painful even after a few minutes. Sitting in his room he realised his world was like watching water down a drain as the circles close in like a vice, telling you the boundaries of what you can do. Things were not helped, when one day while working in the garden he tore his left Achilles tendon. Now he could hardly move. Forever closing down his world to the point that it became so small it is frightening. Once so keen on walking and using the experiences for writing was now confined to his room, the mind that once thrived on the thirst for knowledge and travel now taking over and running scenarios that could happen.
“That is the problem with an active mind,“ he thought. “ At times it is your worst enemy, as it is never at peace and forever thinking what can happen.”
As he could feel the body weakening, the aches more painfully obvious by the day. His mind was telling him that sooner or later he would not be able to get more than a few yards without the severe pains, which were now racking his muscles and joints,. For Adam this was just a bad as the knowledge that his days of travelling were at an end. Playing on his mind was that as much as he loved his garden and growing his plants, he would no longer be able to help in the garden. This was eating away at him, his mind was leaping around and moving to a time in the not too distant when he would be housebound. This was such a chilling thought for only this year his life had turned so quick.
At the start of the year he had planned a weeks writing holiday to his favourite haunt of Scarborough and was looking forward to going to see places he missed on his last trip. Then as his illness took over he realised that this was not an option, so he choose to have day trips as this was all he thought he could do. Looking forward to trips to places like Worcester and Warwick, where he had longed to go, his mindset was calmer on the acceptance of being able to go somewhere. He realised that two hours on his feet was the most he could manage. He had set his sights on shopping in town. Going to a writing course was out of reach as well as he could barely walk and the venue was old and had no disabled facilities. His garden was now the limit of his world. With his mind closing down and running the scenario of him being bedridden and unable to move. He began to wonder at this point, was having an active mind a good thing at all. Having a less active mind he would not have been able to rush his mind to the awful things ahead. Accepting the knowledge of his demise would have been easier to take.
The mind that once thrived on the thirst for travel and knowledge, feeding the writing urge had now turned in on him, it was feeding his fears. Years ago when his dog died, friends and family had told him to get out more as they feared he was getting afraid to go out. He hardly ate, weight dropped off him until he looked very ill. Now eight years later, things had switched around, even though he wanted, he knew he would never see the lovely countryside out there again. His world had got so constricted that he wondered if it was worth it now.
The only things keeping him going were the on line friendships he had made and his urge to keep writing spurred by the possibility of a book publication.
Worse than this, he knew the more he thought about it, the more his mind fed upon the fears, driving him to deeper places of seclusion. He had become an insomniac now, he had not had a good night’s sleep for months. Afraid of where the dreams might lead, his mind filled with dread and worry, the darkness had closed out any light in his life. In reality one of his nightmares had become his reality now. He had hated the thought of not being mobile enough to even walk, of becoming a burden to all around him. His mind reminding him that this is real now.
Adam could feel the pains crawling up his spine and through his skeletal structure, like
‘The Tingler,’ in the Boris Karloff film of the same name. Just like barbed wire around your spine, each movement a knife in a joint, each step a blade of agony shooting pains through your legs to your hips.
Many years ago, he had been chatting to a lady he had met in Canada called Faye, and she asked why he was ill so often, he had told her about the black mould spreading along the wall. “Hun you HAVE to get rid of that love as the spores are deadly.”
Adam had bleached the wall as far as he could, there was one corner he could not get to. It was above his desk and just too far to work on with a stick and cloth. There the mould stayed, It was this corner that was now above his bed head. Laying on his bed. Looking at a patch of dirt and mould from years gone, he had started seeing faces there. The longer he looked the more he saw. Some benign and looking happy, some not quite so pleased and some as animals The more he looked up at them from his bed, the more they changed.
He could not get up the stairs, people came to see him. But did not notice if he was seen for days, he stopped answering the door as it would take him five minutes to get the fifty feet. Walking was so hard and painful, when he did not answer nobody thought anything of it.
One day his wife wanted to ask him something. Thinking he might be in the garden she passed through his room. As she did, she saw his lifeless body laying on his bed looking at the ceiling,he had often told her about the faces.
She looked up at the corner to see looking down at her, a face she had known for many years only this time he was smiling for the first time for as long as she could remember
“He is happy now, he is with his Faye,“ she thought as the tears rolled down her face.
An unaswered question remained-was Adam’s seeing the faces their way of showing acceptance? Did he make them take him as he knew he would be with his Faye? Or was he taken against his will to protect their domain?
When Debby Martland walked into the prom that night all eyes turned to see the beautiful auburn haired girl, dressed in red. She was stunningly beautiful and popular but not prom queen, that honour went to Erika Young, the blonde.
Debby preferred not to be queen. This meant she could dance with whom she wanted to, her beau was Alec Grainger, who but for an injury would have led Brankton University to the Connaught bowl victory they had deserved since mid-season When they beat Palmer Tech 23-10, in one of the biggest upsets in College football.
All eyes watched Debby when she made her way past the football team, to a table at the back of the hall, where Alec sat on his own, drinking coffee. The crutches on the floor beside him told the tale of the end of what might have been Brankton’s finest middle line backer.
All Debbie saw, was her man in his college jacket, sat alone whilst the team celebrated their glory after beating Yardley the previous week, to win 14 -13 with the last kick of the game “Alec, aren’t you going to join the team love?” Debbie asked.
“No love. I don’t feel I belong there now, after the injury. Let them have their glory.”
“Everybody knows, if you hadn’t been defensive captain until the Championship game. They would never have got anywhere.”
“Could have been, should have been. I know, love, let Dave bathe in his glory, it was a hard game, and I suppose the best team won!”
“You don’t sound convinced. What's on your mind love?”
“Oh, just the different styles of myself and Dave and how we almost lost because of it. I didn’t like the way we won. Then it wasn’t up to me, to make the calls this time was it!”
“Anyway, love, you go and enjoy the evening, don't let me spoil it for my lovely Debby. I saw all the lads looking at you, when you came in.”
“Heck no! Why should I be love? I know we are good no matter what happens. I just want you to feel free to enjoy your night, and not get lumbered with a crock like me.”
“A crock you maybe ,Alec, but you are my crock and I love you.”
“Thanks, that means a lot, when you consider how many good looking guys there are here tonight.”
“Can you tell me what happened in the game against Verlderman. We saw the tape of the game and when you got injured. I can't make out what went wrong love. How did you see it going down?”
“The play was called from the box double tight right.”
“Sorry love, you will have to explain to me!”
I'm sorry Debs, I get so used to talking the game, I forgot I need to tell people. What that meant was a classic Redskin move of the 70s, 2 tight ends on the right to block for a running play. I called the counter, our special 'Pork roll,' this meant instead of 4 linemen and 3 line-backers, we go to 3-4, line goes to the right, line backers to the left, to keep the runner thinking of a new route. As the runner hit the line, the linebackers pushed forward to block. That was whenI felt something tear in my leg and fell to the floor. I was in the middle of the pack and everything went on until the play stopped and the ref saw me holding my leg. Next thing I remember is going to hospital for the cast, now I can't walk or stand for long.”
“That's awful love. We were watching the game film and we think we saw Dave accidentally stand on your ankle.”
“Why would he do that?We are best mates.”
“You tell me! It's no secret that he wanted to be a starter but lacks your fire and steel. It's no secret either, that his family have him marked out for a law firm, even though he wants to play football. If you planned it well, he could get his chance now. Before he was at best a fifth round choice, in other words, he would have to fight for his place, we know he isn’t good enough for that.”
“Okay. Let us assume you are right, what do I get out of this?”
“That is something that has puzzled me since the injury,you had several teams willing to give up 2nd and 3rd round draft picks to get you.You would have been an automatic starter, maybe even Superbowl winner love. Everything points to Dave benefiting at your cost, best friends as you are, I can't see you throwing the chance of big time away, just to hand it to him.”
“Believe me Deb, I got just as much out of this as Dave, I made sure of it. I suggest you look at the school records of 1960, when my dad played here, that might give you an idea.”
“I'll do that tomorrow love.”
“Now go and enjoy the rest of the night, I'll see you in a while.”
While Debbie danced the night away. Alec was busy writing in his notebook, she knew he always had it with him but could not think what he might be writing about this time.
The next day, as requested Debbie turned up at the library archive section to review the old school game reports, it was there she found the first part of her answer, just as Alec said she would. The report for the game against Mildermere “The Brankton side held their own against the might of a much stronger Mildermere team for three quarters and could have possibly forced extra time but for an unfortunate accident involving ace run blocking line backer Fred Grainger. Deep into the third quarter Grainger was blocking a 3rd and short, when he collapsed holding his left leg. As he tried to stand, it was obvious he was unable and had to be carried off on a stretcher. With the game close, this was a critical blow to Brankton. This blow which was to cost them the game and title chance as Mildermere ran out 30-20 winners, later on taking both the Championship pennant and the Connaught bowl.”
“Maybe that is what Alec was worried about,” Debbie thought, as she wound onto the next page to find what happened to Alec’s father. The story ended with “After being carried off last week, it has been reported that Fred Grainger’s injury is worse than thought. The Achilles tendon is torn so bad, he will need major surgery and will not be able to play again. Oh my poor thing, he was worried it would come back to haunt him, for his chance at the big time.”
After putting the reels back on the shelf and thanking the librarian, Debbie went for her coffee and to meet Alec for dinner. “Hi love, I did as you asked and read about your dad’s serious injury, that was terrible.”
“I know,Deb. He never got over it and still walks with a limp as you know.”
“Is that why you got injured then love and gave Dave his chance?”
“You have twoparts of the theory now love but are still missing two.”
“What do I get from this? And what actually happened that day?”
“I know you were worried about your dad’s injury coming back sometime to ruin your chances and I know you were never really into playing football. You were the best we had, but your heart was never really there.It has been in your writing, which is why you carry your notebook. Which brings me to a good point, what were you writing last night love?”
“After my injury and knowing I want to write, the coach approached the Dean and they agreed for me to write the game reports. They thought who better than a former player.”
“I can't fault them there. Even though you have a football grant, your writing is great. When will we see the report?”
“The paper is out tomorrow with my report .”
“Great, I look forward to reading it. Now back to our original question. I see you wanting to get out of the game to be a writer and not wanting to end up with a limp like your dad. But the accident?”
“You saw the film.What did you think?”
“Being honest, I couldn't say what happened.”
The following day the report came out as scheduled, Alec’s first match report for the Brankton courier made the headlines “For the fist time in their 75 year history Brankton college lifted the Connaught bowl last week, in a hard game of defenses they came from behind to win 14-13. One of the reasons for the close fought game was the change in styles of defense forced upon Brankton by the career ending injury to line backer Alec Grainger. After a scoreless first half Yardley took the lead with a running touch down, made possible by a classic Cowboys move from the great Tom Landry playbook ( the Statue of Liberty). This involves the QB, taking a five step drop, usually signifying a long throw, this will stop the cornerbacks and safties from moving up close. As he gets the ball he draws his arm back, the running back takes the ball from him, with the corners and safties expecting the pass play. They are too deep to stop the running game. Brankton’s offence never got the chance to shine, as they were held to two feld goals by kicker Paul Lucan, one of forty yards and the second from thirty-five yards.
The only time offence did move was when QB sensation of the season Dirk Morrison ran in from fifteen yards on a QB scramble. The following conversation for the extra point was blocked giving Brankton an 11-6 lead going into the final quarter.
Yardley ran the ball well taking as much time off the clock as they thought they would need, before QB Ashley Cummings threw a forty yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jake Loomings, this tied the game at 11-11, with only a minute left. Yardley went for a fake kick and Cummings threw to tight end Dave Jackson to give Yardley the lead 13-11. When all looked sealed for a Yardley win, they took a chance on an on-side kick and keeping possession rather than kicking deep. Brankton got the kick and ran it back ten yards, giving Paul Lucan a fifty yard kick to make to win the game.
After taking the kick, and seeing the ball sail high, Lucan turned around and sat waiting, head in his hands. Either it would be a roar, signalling a Brankton win or a sigh for a Yardley victory.The ball hit the post and ricocheted in, the roar could be heard all around the ground.”
“That is a great report!” Debbie commented. “Not at all biased or vindictive as to you weren't playing.”
“Thanks love, I am a reporter darling, my personal feelings don’t come into it. I was just reporting on a football game.”
“I've looked at the film again and no matter how many times, I still can't make out if it was accident or planned between you and Dave. You both benefited from your injury.”
The night air was cold enough to steal your breath, the mists rose from the marshes as I looked out over the river. Across from the docks from where I stood lay the old church of St. Simon in the Wolds. Long forgotten, since the building of the new town of Creech Hinton.
I was watching as a sea mist rolled down the river Bowles. The port of Creech Hinton was only six miles from the sea, and even less from the old town area of Porterton, but they could have been in two different time eras. Porterton; the once thriving port on the north shore of the Bowles had been a vital medieval port in its time and the sailor’s church had seen some good years service.
One day, so it is said a boat was seen leaving the back door carrying a strange load hidden in a large bag. Iit was reported to be Lord David Endersliegh the local land baron as he was never seen again although owning most of what later came to be Creech Hinton. Creech Hinton grew from strength to strength, as Porterton died away and the old church got left to rot.
The Endersliegh family went into shipping and got wealthy from the fishing trade, with a mansion in Creech Hinton and another five miles inland at King’s Porrow. They grew to be the main land owners on this side of the Bowles as well. Just as things looked like they might take off big for them, the Endersliegh family were hit with a series of illnesses and bad deals. People started talking of the St. Simon’s curse, and how years before it had claimed a family, trying to leave Porterton.
Standing at the dock, I could just make out the church and the single lane track leading to it. From this side though all there is, is a huge low lying mud bank, as I stood there I saw a sight which chilled me.
Along the river coming out of the mists was a low punt, being pushed by two men with poles, they were heading to the back of the church. As I watched, fixated at the sight unfolding before me. I heard one of the men shout "Come out Endersliegh and pay your debts, like a man!"
This was followed by a shout from the second "If you don’t come out, we'll come and get you!"
A shout from inside the church echoed across the mists of time "Try as you may, I am not coming out!"
I could only stand, mouth agape, I was witnessing an event from the distant past for some reason, I had no idea why nor why it was shown to me.
The punt appeared to move to the west bank and pitch. The men got out and softly walked to the church, daggers at the ready. As they turned the corner of the church I lost sight of them but could still hear the struggles going on inside the building. The sounds of men in a struggle carried through the mists as did the sounds of metal upon metal.
As the struggle ensued, I heard a cry from inside the church "Davis Martenfeld, I curse your family to stay here until the church falls around you."
Then men left carrying a large and obviously heavy baggage rolled in a church drape. One of the men I recognised one as the second boatman. The other I had not seen and assumed to have been in the church during the fighting as his clothing was torn and bloodied This man stood a head above his companion, and had a darker complexion.
From this distance and through the mists, all I could make out was that the men rowed up the river, then disappeared in the mists. This mysterious happening had intrigued me so much, I started to enquire in the town as to its meaning. With interest at a new pitch now I set off back into Creech Hinton, to have a meal at the Towers Inn. During the meal and with a mind full of images.
I was musing to myself,when I asked the barmaid "Excuse, as I don’t know the area well,what is the easiest way to Porterton by car?”
The bar hushed, she looked at me with a mix of trepidation and horror in her eyes, as she leant forward to say "Sir, in these parts we don’t mention that place, there is still a lot of folks who have bad feelings about it."
A gent at the bar looked at me and said "I saw you looking over the river at Porterton earlier, young man and at the look as if you had witnessed some odd events. You wont get much shift from folk here about Porterton. That's as close as folks here are likely to get to it, as we remembers the spring of 1995 and the terrible accident that befell the Martingfield family."
With a look of interest I replied "Martingfield you say!"
"Yes sir, John, his wife Jane and son Philip tried to leave the area, the car went off the road and got stuck in the bogs over there, weird thing it was a clear day. John knew the road well, so why did it go off? He lost both of them and went half mad with grief." Seeing my interest he added: "Why are you so intrigued by the name? They are an old family, and have been in Porterton longer than memory can recall.”
"I can imagine, I know they have been here for centuries.”
"How? You said you don’t know the area.”
"When I was out there, through the sea mists, I saw a boat row up to the church, two men got out and went into the curch, I heard the struggles of o fight inside and two men came out, I recognized one, he was one of the two who went in. The other was darker and taller than the first.”
The bar went silent as I continued with the story of my sightings "Next I heard a cry of Davis Martenfeld I curse your family to stay in the area until the church falls around you!”
People that only a few minutes ago were happily chatting away, now started leaving, as the bar cleared I turned to the man sat by me and said "What did I do wrong?"
My companion said to me "Buy me a pint kind sir, and I shall tell you a tale."
This I did with relish, I have a fascination for the stories of the folks in villages. "First I shall introduce myself, I am Roger de Endersliegh. Yes, the same family that owned Porterton lands and now Creech Hinton. I too am a local fisherman, as have my folks been down the centuries. Earlier today I came ashore from a fishing trip, the night is warm and with no breeze, yet you saw a sea mist rolling in. I can assure you there was no mist tonight. I would have been in a lot sooner than 8:00, the bogs and channels here can change shape in the mist. It would be so easy to get lost out there, even for an experienced waterman like myself. Folks around here have long awaited and feared this day, it was said “ A stranger will cross the barriers of time and reel back the truth for all to see.” I don't doubt what you saw, folks around here are mighty suspicious being as they are fishermen and their kin."
"Where did the people go?" I asked Roger.
"Probably to the church of St. Mark’s down the road."
"Why? There are some closer.”
"It's the largest church in Creech Hinton, they've gone to pray to save their souls, safety in numbers I guess. For the time they let the Martenfeld family suffer the sins of my family."
"Aren’t you worried for your soul?" I asked him.
"Not in the slightest!"
"Why not? By your admission your family were the real sinners here.”
"Were we? Or was the town itself to blame for blaming the Martenfeld family for that night over the centuries? If they had stood by the family then, instead of running to this side of the Bowles river, things would have been a lot easier. The Endersiegh’s would still have owned a lot, we had the boats, the men worked them and the ladies cleaned and mended the nets for us.’
"Do you believe your family is cursed? You had all that illness and lost the money.”
"No. Why should I?"
"Because the folk here have mentioned it !"
"Mainly because they want to, it was no more than some bad business deals, with companies that collapsed. As for the illnesses ,we found out fifteen years ago it was a genetic ailment that had lain dormant for centuries, it could have come to the fore any time.”
“Why do the folks her believe in it so strongly then?"
"Their way of cleansing their souls-I guess."
"Aren’t you going to put them out of their misery after all this time though?"
"Maybe, I haven't decided yet, the Martingfield’s have suffered for centuries. I guess a year or two more for these folks won’t go a miss will it after all this time."
The bar closed for the night, my new friend an I went back to the docks to continue our chat about the area and its history “You saw, you won’t get much help from folk here, if you want to visit Porterton and the church but I am willing to drive you there. I know the bogs and marshes well. That is partially why they wont go, nobody from here has been there in about thirty years and they are not sure of the roads."
"Partially you say. What is the rest of the reason?”
"Mainly, they are very superstitious of the area and think it is haunted since the curse was laid on it, and don’t wish to come over here."
"And you don’t!"
"No, the family feel secluded there. It isn't comfortable but at least they were not scorned as before. The accident years ago was no more than a slight miscalculation of the tides. They move the sand bars on which we drive. Miss one and you are in the bogs, another reason, people think it is haunted, but just tidal pressures on sands.”
We went our ways, agreeing to meet after breakfast the next day for the journey, although the journey was short, owing to the land conditions a ten mile journey was to become a twenty-five mile journey to avoid the marshes. On the journey to the church we had another interesting discussion linking to events of the previous day.
"I couldn’t help notice your name is de Endersliegh and not Endersliegh." I queried.
"Yes, the de Enderligh’s are a French family and we go way back. That's why the man you saw was darker and taller than the two who entered the church, he was a foreigner to England, the locals thought that Martenfeld was helping him set up for a series of raids on the coastal villages as Martenfeld did not sound English either. The name they have now was their real one, not a modern variation.”
"The two men I saw in the boat, looked a lot different to him though as I said smaller and lighter skinned."
"Probably just a pair of vagrant sailors down on their luck, looking for easy money, which is why one got killed."
As the car moved towards Porterton, the clouds closed in and a feeling of dread enclosed us "Going to be stormy at sea tonight my friend, look at the clouds ahead."
As we drove, the clouds seemed to be gathering for a terrible storm, as they went from grey to black and appeared to cut off all light, so much so that even though it was before midday. My friend was driving slowly on full beams.
"I noticed last night, that the boat vanished half way upstream and tales say your relative was never seen again."
"You have to remember then sailors had few charts, most was done from memory and hearsay around ports so they probably got caught in the riptide here as they didn’t know the currents as we do now."
As we turned off the A3589, onto the Porterton road, the road went from a road to little more than a dirt track as so few people use it. There were strange stories of the house and church, which kept folk away. Half a mile down the track we met a large gate and an electric fence.
We stopped at the fence, looking around we saw a camera link. "Hello Mr. Martingfield, can we come in and have a talk to you?" my friend asked .
A distant and tinny voice replied "What for? Ain’t talked to anyone in years, don’t feel like doing so now."
"Can we come in please? We have some important news for you and I would prefer to tell you, rather than this machine.”
“What we have to say is personal and private and I don’t want to get soaked as the storm will break soon." I added.
On my cue, there was a loud clap of thunder and the rains came down, pelting on the car roof and bonnet. There seemed to be no let up, either from the rains or inside, so I decided to take a chance.
"Mr. Martingfield, if you want to stay locked in there you can. We will give you five minutes, then we are off and you will NEVER know what you might have had. It's YOUR choice now.” I put the phone down, turned around and said to my friend "No use waiting in the rain, let’s get in the car."
"If he calls, we wont hear the phone in here, with the distance and rains."
"If he wants to meet, he can open the gates for us, I'm betting he's in two minds now."
After four minutes the gates opened, and we were allowed in. For the first time in over thirty years, somebody had been down this drive other than the family It was really scary, the drive was bereft of any signs of nature, it was as though nature had given up. The old church and house were close to ruins, obviously they had hoped it would collapse and break the curse for them.
As we drove up to the house, a man came to greet us, dressed in an old cardigan with torn jeans and slippers, his grey hair straggly and sparse. He greeted us with "Hello I am Paul Martingfield, the last of the line,”
We walked across the hall to the only room which appeared to have lights on, our host bade us to sit down. The old chairs creaked under the strain of being sat on for the first time in ages. We were looking at the books on the shelves in the library whenour host returned with some coffee " I am sorry for being so abrupt, years on your own,knowing I wont have family have turned me nasty to others."
"That is understandable." My friend said as we had our coffees.
"I've seen you around Creech Hinton sir, and wondered are you related to the Endersligh’s as you have their features?" our host enquired after my friend.
"Yes I am Roger de Endersliegh and have come to tell you that there is no curse here. In the olden days your family knew the tides and ways here and kept to yourselves. My family lost the money in bad business deals and found we had a genetic flaw recently which is the reason for all those illnesses." My friend continued "You are free to leave whenever you wish. I am so sorry that your family suffered for things beyond your control, that you did not do, for so many centuries."
When we drove up the road, you could see the look of happiness on the man’s face as we crossed his gate for the final time, him knowing he would never get drawn back there by fear again.
That night in the bar, I was chatting to my friend about the things we had done when I said:
"You appeared to have rationally explained every thing away, haven’t you."
"Not by a long way!”
"What do you mean?You explained the curse, your family, the missing boat, there isn't much more."
"Yes there is a whole lot more."
"There is the story of how a stranger will cross the barriers of time and reveal the truth for all to see, and how on a clear warm night, you saw the sea mists rising. That is something I cannot explain away.”
The two warriors stood back to back, blades and vestments covered in blood and various bit of tattered flesh. The taller of the two men, Patrow Kellerman was of the clan Harrowcar, a fierce and proud race, known for strong axe blades and good fighters. His companion Toggmar Brennlin, was a good head shorter, built like an ox. He was from the Sallowertan tribe of Herringer, his folks were known for their horsemanship and swordsmanship on horseback.
This day had started badly for Toggmar, standing watch at the Castle Porrodlin, between the Herringer grounds and the far distant shores of Plamindar. He and his fellow watchman had not seen the troops, until they came from under the ground 200 feet from the gates. The first Toggmar knew was when his colleague fell with a Plamindar bolt in his throat. He tried to run for the castle to warn the rest of the soldiers but was cut down by a staff and had to watch as the soldiers stormed the gates. He saw friends torn apart from blades so ragged, the blood squirted from so many cuts you couldn't see the men. Looking around him, Toggmar knew, with instinct borne in battle with the Plamindar. There was only one end in sight, that was the death of all in the party, they would slay thity-five good men of Herringer.
Toggmar jumped astride the nearest horse and rode for all he was worth reaching Fortress Drachanweld in two hours, instead of the usual three hours it would have taken. Out of breath and running as fast as he could, he went to the guard commander. Toggmar could only say “Plamindar, three miles west of here, stay close together!” Then he collapsed, tired out and weary. After three mugs of 'Hog’s Blood' ale he went to see Patrow Kellerman, the clan chief.
Patrow asked of him “From where have you ventured, my man, and what is your good name?”
“I'm Toggmar Brennlin of the Salloertan clan from Herringer. I came to you straight from Castle Porrodlin, or at least what is left of it. We lost thirty-five men of Herringer in a skirmish with the Plamindar. And they are coming here next.”
“I haven't heard of them before. Is there a way to defend ourselves?”
“Not this group, this is a skirmishing raid. The only defence is when they arrive, get the men to stand back to back, for NO reason leave anyone unprotected. These are butchers, they kill and maim, for sheer enjoyment!”
“Porrodlin you said.”
“If my memory is correct that castle had a clear field of fire, no trees and bushes and yet you said they suddenly appeared 200 feet away. Do you have an explanation as to how?”
“We thought we had everything covered, rocks for our protection near the gates, just to slow them a bit, and give us a chance to form up, but they appeared from nowhere, and all plans went aside, it became a fight to the death, each man for himself.”
“How did you survive then Toggmar of Sallowertan?”
“I was hit on the back of the head with a staff, as they do not check for casualties they left me for dead. I woke three hours later and saw the ruined castle, strewn with my friends. You don’t have the time to challenge my word nor the manpower to imprison me for being a possible spy. By now they should be coming around the fork at Hagardson’s ridge.”
“If we give you a horse and food, can you make it to Porrowlock? It's only five miles and they have a garrison of over a hundred and fifty men?”
“I could. But there is no point!”
“Take a look over the brow of that hill.”
“I see smoke pouring from the village, MY GOD! They hit Porrowlock first.”
“I was wondering, why it took them so long to get here.”
“What does that mean for us, there are only fifty here, counting you and me?”
“Patrow Kellerman of Harrowcar, as I stand here the last man of Herringer. I salute your bravery, my friend. We have but one choice. We stand back to back, axe to sword and fight until either we win or die.”
Patrow and Toggmar gather ed the men for a final prayer to their gods of war Signus the Great and Sigmar the rock. Who had held a pass against over a hundred invaders for two hours, so the injured could escape.
As the band of men rose from prayer, Patrow gave the order “By Sigmar’s blood and Signus’s hand. We fight this fight, live or die, we battle to a stand in death, we die to protect our lands.”
The men stood in awe of their heroes and the deeds done, each lost in thoughts of homes, they hoped to see. Each hoping that at dawn of day, this battle would be a historic victory and sung around the fires.
Then out of the mists for the first time, the dreaded banners of red and gold helmets were in sight. The army was on the march in an orderly manner. This was something unusual, as Plamindar attacks were usually quick strikes and then off to the next ones.
Looking out over the crest of the hill Patrow was horrified at what he saw “Toggmar, what do you make of this, my friend?”
“I can only assume ONE thing Patrow. We are all that stands between them and controlling this area, they only unfurl the banners at the end of the struggles, so we are the last stand now.”
Patrow stood aloft the castle walls, and yelled to the men “Porrowlock is in enemy hands We have no chance of reinforcements or escape. Any man willing to try is welcome, nobody will think bad of you. Otherwise we'll stand and fight here and now.”
If on cue, as he stood down a huge boulder came crashing through the walls, where less than a minute ago, he had stood. With the first breach came the rush of men, axes swinging, swords slashing through coats of leather, like through reeds in the spring. Toggmar and Patrow led a charge to try and hold the breach, but the few men they could gather were no match as more rocks crashed the gates.
“Get to your positions men!” shouted Toggmar.
On the command the men withdrew into groups, each man covered by two more as the raid progressed the men of Plamindar, grew weary. They had got used to a quick fight and were now weakening, sensing this Patrow shouted “Break ground men!”
At this command, the men broke the groups and chased down the enemy, the banners of Plamindar, lay in the blood and guts of its dead warriors. Toggmar and Patrrow strode to the top of the battlements, to watch the stragglers be chased down and put to the sword.
The fort lay in ruins, men lay dead at their feet, clothes torn and bodies tired but they had held the grounds and could be proud. Although they lost twenty men in the raid, their position had held and they knew this day would not be heard of in Plaminder.
Patrow turned to Toggmar and asked “What do you think saved us, my friend?”
After a while Toggmar said “It wasn't just the stand and fighting but also we chased them down, so they could not band together again, for another attack.”
The day I almost got shot
Stationed at RAF Laarbruch, in Germany during the summer of 1979, I was fortunate to be given the chance to see a major soccer event.
The European Cup final in the Olympic stadium in Munich, the match was between Nottingham Forest of England and Malmo of Sweden. At this time Forest were not a major team in the UK, only the year before having been promoted from the old Division 2. Any British soccer fan, will tell you this was the start of Forests greatest era since the late 50s, when they won the FA cup in what became known as the Roy Dwight final. Dwight scored a goal after 10 minutes, Tommy Wilson put Forest up 2-0 after 14 minutes.
Fifteen minutes later, tragedy struck as Dwight broke his leg in a tackle with Lutons’ Brendan MacNally, Luton pulled a goal back in the 66th minute when Dave Pacey scored, Forest held on to their slender lead for the last 25 minutes, this meant Forest had to play with only 10 men for an hour, as substitutes were not allowed, even for injuries until 1968. Forest became the only team to beat the Wembley hoodoo and win with 10 men.
Under the Clough & Taylor reign Forest won the league at the first attempt since entering the top in several years. The season before, when Brian Clough took over. Forest were languishing near the bottom of Division 2, in two years he took them from obscurity to the top of Europe, people no longer thought of Elton Johns’ cousin ( Roy Dwight), when you talked of Forest, now it was of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor.
The talk of the season was Cloughs’ signing of Birmingham citys’ Trevor Francis, at the time a record fee of £1m (how things change). Under FIFA rules he was ineligible to play for three months, which meant his first game was the final Bought as a centre-forward, Francis played the game on the right wing, as Gary Birtles and Tony Woodcock were the regulars with Forest at the time. A friend was lucky to acquire for us some tickets to the game, how I never knew and never asked. Even though I was neither a Forest fan nor a football fan by this time I decided to go. Mainly to see Munich, as I thought I would never get the chance again.
The journey from the Dutch border station down to Munich took over four hours, we set out after tea and arrived early morning, tired and aching and craving for a drink, being in Germany and with the big game on, the bars were open early. Some of the guys hit the beer early, German beer is weaker than any I have tried. No wonder they serve such large amounts with huge heads, no English pub would dare serve a pint, that was hlalf foam.
After spending the lovely day of 30th May, in the sun, admiring the city, I decided to go to the match, in time to get a good view I went about an hour before the game started. When I arrived, there was a junior cup final in progress, and all the crowd was cheering No. 10 like mad, I did not understand, until I looked at the electronic scoreboard and saw his name was Fuchs. I thought “What an honour for these young boys to play in the stadium, on the same ground as their heroes Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller, Sepp Maier and Paul Brietner.”
It wasn't long after this, that the incident happened. I was standing watching the final, when a German policeman, looking at me, went for his gun “What have I done wrong? “ I thought.
The man next to me had spit in the trench, and the guard who had been looking at me, when he went for the gun. If the guard thought I was a trouble maker, let me explain my position.
I was standing next to a three foot wall, after climbing this. I would have had a ten foot drop to a trench approximately fifteen feet wide, then would have to climb back up fifteen feet to the grassy area, before running about thirty feet to the pitch. Then get past the guards on patrol. As you see there was no way, anyone could have got near the pitch, unless you were a special forces member.
Francis scored the only goal just before half-time, in what was a bit of an anti-climatic game for such a prestigious even in the stadium. When we left, both Brits and Swedes cheering and laughing, swapping shirts and flags, we spent a lovely late summer evening in the city I don't have many memories of the game itself, just of Larry Lloyd and the Forest team parading the cup, I still have some slides I took there, and somewhere even the programme.
And of the day I nearly got shot.
The walls ran red
It was a hot and sultry evening in Holbrook drive. Pat Carter sat in his vest and underwear, staring at the bloody knife in his hand and at the walls soaked with the blood of the Carpenter family. Still dazed, when ten minutes later, a police car arrived to take him back to the institute from which he had just escaped from.
“Put that knife down Pat!” the policeman said as he carefully walked towards Pat. His colleague ready to pounce at the slightest wrong move.
Pat just sat there, face dead, blank, staring at the walls, as if nothing had happened.
“It's just as the doc said, Jim,” PC Alec Warber said.
“Sure, Alec,” PC Dave Johns replied. “He's blanked it all out again, just like up at the hill that night.”
“That sure was weird, Dave, nobody but him knows what happened and the doc says, he can't say anything. It was so horrible, his mind refused to accept it, which is why he has no recall, even after all the methods they used on him.”
“Looks like he did the same here, Alec. Look at his eyes, so empty as if nobody is there behind the face, just a body and motions, no feelings at all, it is too weird for me.”
“We had our instruction Dave, just placate and disarm him.Then phone the docs, let them see to him, under no circumstances, try to rush him, just take it slowly.”
“Listen, there is no way I want to be even near him. I heard stories about that night ten years ago, how they found him, wandering, mumbling about something up there draining peoples life energies. It sounded worse than any horror movie I have seen, Alec.”
“I know, the only person who really knew is here and he has been silent ever since that night. From what I heard, I cannot blame him. He was locked away for years, nobody could figure him out.”
“They say, there could be something still loose up there, within the walls and circuits.”
“That's just tales to scare the kids, Dave, pay no heed to them, mate.”
“I'm not to sure about it, Alec. I've always had a bad feeling about the whole area, even in daylight it creeps me out, haven’t you noticed. The building is in the woods but there are no animals wandering about and no bird sounds. You can't say that is right!”
“The doctors says for the first years he was there, he used to keep flicking his head as if he was scared something was after him. It wasn't a nervous twitch the report said, more a deliberate action. Almost like he WAS trying to find the truth. Then one day, he stopped, and became totally unresponsive to everyone, just totally withdrew into himself, and never came back.”
“It does make you wonder, what is going on behind the blankness?”
“Dave, don’t start going into analysis again, you know it freaked me out last time.”
“Yes, but you had to admit. I was right about the case.”
“That I can't dispute, your method may have been off the wall, but we got a result.”
“Okay, time to call in the experts.”
“PCs Warber and Johns at the scene of the Carpenter murders, we have the assailant placated and disarmed now, can you call in the medics please. Over and out.”
Alec turned away, something flickered behind the dead façade of Pat Carter’s blankness and he sprang like a released cobra for the policeman. Before Dave could react, his friend had been carved up and lay bleeding on the floor, Dave knew, he had to keep an eye on Pat and make sure he did not get free. Even though his partner lay bleeding in front of him.
Without a second thought, he hit him hard on the neck with the nightstick. At first, Dave wondered if this was good policy. Pat turned and looked him straight in the face, lips pulled back, like a lion on the kill. Then, he had a moment to recover before falling face down, on the kitchen floor.
Knowing time was of the essence know, Dave hauled the limp body to a chair and tied him to the stove, using handcuffs and kitchen flex, he was tied up well and wouldn't move.
Dave went into the hall, head bowed, even though he knew he should check his colleague. He knew it was pointless, there were so many cuts on the body and such blood loss, even major surgery was hopeless.He was sat in the corner, crying, when the medics finally arrived twenty minutes later.
“Come on son,” the senior ambulance said. We need to get you away for a while.”
“Go next door and have a cuppa, we’ll clear up in here, you've seen too much in such a short time. Take some time out of here, the coffee will calm you a bit and the sugar, will help keep the shock away for a bit as well.”
The next day, when Dave returned to duty, he was greeted by his Sergeant “Morning, Dave.”
Half in a daze he replied “Morning, Sarge.’
“That was awful last night, we don’t want you to go through it again but while it's fresh, can you write a report out please?”
“I don’t see why not Sarge, it'll never leave me.”
After he finished the report, Dave sat back and re-read it through three times, to make sure it was all there. He had left nothing out, from the frightened little girl screaming down the phone that she had just seen Pat, carve the family up. To the last thing he remembered, sitting in the corner crying over Alec’s bloodied body and wishing he could beat the crap out of the monster.
As the chief came into read the report Dave said “Now we have a bloodbath, a quadruple homicide to clear, and a suspect dead to rights. Who we cannot charge, as he is mentally incapable, sir.”
“Yes PC Johns, that is true, I want you to come with me to the institute in an hours time, I am sure you have some question to ask the doctors there.”
“That is so true sir!”
Two hours later the police car arrived at the institute with the chief and PC Johns in the back. As the chief and PC Johns got out they were met by a doctor. “Good afternoon,I am Inspector Jacobs of Holchurch constabulary, I will be leading the investigation into the incident at the Carpenter house, but first I am sure PC Johns, has a few questions he wants to ask.”
As the doctor turned to PC Johns, he could see the cold anger in his eyes.”How did he escape? He was supposed to be locked in a secure cell, with only a small door for food.”
“We have a theory on that,” the doctor defenively replied.
“Please.Go on, I would love to hear this one.” Dave said sarcasticilly.
“PC Johns, that is no way to talk to the doctor,” the Inspector chided Dave.
“With all due respect, sir. Last night I went to a triple murder, saw a friend beaten to death and carved up like meat in a butcher’s, and he has a theory!”
“I can never imagine the horrors you saw or went through officer but please believe me, there was nothing we could have done to stop it, if you watch the video, you will see what I mean.”
As they sat watching a video of Pat in his cell, the door firmly closed. There he was pacing around, like a caged animal, muttering to himself. At approximately 11:15 pm, the video went blank, for 5 minutes and when power came back, he was gone.
“What happened therw? “he cannot just have vanished into thin air, the Inspector said.
“I'll run it again, watch for the ten seconds before it goes blank!” said the doctor.
As they did, the doctor slowed the film down to a split second interval, just before it went off Dave said “What was the flash we saw?”
“That was the energy from the creature. It blew all the electrics controlling the doors, which is how he escaped last night.”
“You mean the thing helped him escape.”
“No! It didn't help him.”
“You mean, he has been in contact with it and asked for help,” the Inspector asked.
“Worse than that even, Inspector.”
Together the two policemen said “How do you mean worse?”
“We think he has become the monster now.””
“If that happened last night, how do you plan to keep him contained, if he can blow all the doors at will?”
“We can't but we don’t think he is a threat anymore!”
“Why? He has just killed four people, you saw he cannot walk free whenever he wants,” the Inspector queried.
“Why do you think he went to that house, of all the houses on the road?”
“You tell us, doc, you have the answers,” Dave snapped back.
“In his mind the Carpenters are responsible for the deaths and his condition. Their son was the leader of the group. In killing them, he has in some way got retribution for all the suffering he has had. He hasn't moved since he came back last night, the electrical impulses in his brain are rapidly closing down now.”
“And then...”said the Inspector.
“The body will cease to function and he will die, Inspector.”
“How sure are you this time doc?” Dave asked.
“About 85% .”
“There's not a lot we can do now, I know it wont bring Alec back or let me forget the horrors but it will have to do!’ Dave finished.