International Writers Magazine: Ghost
The year is 1744.
A big fat harvest moon shone that night upon the forests of the
village of Moon Steere as Tom Carter ran for his life. Hed
been out poaching and the gamekeepers werent far behind him.
He knew that if they caught him hed be in deep trouble.
He knew what he
was doing was wrong but Carter and his family were poor and it was hard
being a farm labourer and having to feed a family of nine. So he ran,
ran as fast as he could, as fast as he had ever done crashing through
the trees, breaking bracken, and across the stream, sending water splashing
up his legs.
He could hear the shouting men and the howling of their dogs behind
him but he dare not turn around. He knew that he had to keep moving,
and he did until he reached a fallow field just beyond the stream. For
some reason the field unsettled him, he felt chill in his bones and
he tentatively began to walk across it. He couldnt put his finger
on why he felt so uncomfortable but he realised that it now felt colder
and windier in the field here than what it did through the woods or
across the stream. He looked around and with some shock noticed that
a fog was rolling across the area. He began to grow scared and started
to quicken his steps, but he felt like he was wading through a thick
substance, as if someone was pushing him back, keeping him in the fallow
field. Suddenly breathless and weary he stopped and tried to hear for
the gamekeepers approach, but he could not hear them. Instead he heard
a muffled sound, like a whirring, a sound unlike any he had heard before.
It began to drive itself into his ears, growing louder, attacking his
skull from the inside.
He threw his hands up to block out the unholy sound, sending his brace
of pheasant to the ground and the fogs murky depths, but it was
no use, it grew louder and louder, hurting so much that he screwed his
eyes tight. He staggered through the grass until he felt compelled to
open his eyes. What he saw was improbable, a huge beam of blinding light
attacking him from all directions, the noise as if from very hell now
open him. He felt things whiz passed him and looked down to see if the
gamekeepers dogs had caught up with him, but there was nothing
to be seen. It was as if the noise and lights were brushing past him
with an alarming power, the forces hitting him felt so strong it was
like he was in the middle of a violent storm. Suddenly the noise and
the lights and the winds became as one, one horrible God defying entity
that overcame all his senses in an instant, he tried to look far into
the mist but he could not, he could not move no matter how hard he tried,
it was all too unbearable, he needed it to stop and then he felt nothing.
Felt nothing ever again.
The gamekeepers came to the fallow field and were stunned by what they
saw. Lay there below them in the grass was the body of their quarry
Tom Carter. Completely eviscerated, as they had never seen before. There
was bone sticking out through twisted flesh and blood pouring out across
the moonlit grass like a black inky sea escaping from his body. The
dogs began to whimper and back away, one of the men was sick whilst
another could only mutter Holy God, the rest were struck
The village of Moon Steere was horrified by the news and deeply troubled
to think that some demon may reside in the fallow field. The Squire,
Matthew Hookton, owner of the lands, was mortified and in the days after
the death of Carter gathered the villagers together to discuss what
could be done to solve this grotesque mystery. Several men decided that
they would go into the field to see what, if anything, was in there.
These were God fearing men, one of whom was the local Priest, who took
crosses and holy water to arm themselves against what many presumed
to be the devil himself. Of that party of five men, only two came back.
Clem Tolliver, a local farmhand and Matthew Hookton who wisely fled
the scene as soon as they felt the winds pick up and a hard chill take
the air. The three others bodies were ripped apart and, they claimed,
sent skywards by an unseen enemy as a cruel and unnatural mist came
across the field. Hookton added the last he saw of the group was the
Priest struggling vainly to raise his cross as the winds picked him
up from where he stood and snapped his body in two.
By now the village was in total panic and outside help was required
it was deemed. Yet who could they consult? They had tried to seek Gods
help by sending men armed with his tools but to no avail. Who was able
to rid the village of a foul and terrifying unseen beast? It was decided
by Tolliver, a man who had worked the land for many a year, to consult
an older practice, that of paganism. He informed the village that he
knew of a man from another county who was a believer in the trees and
the earth who claimed to see things others could not. His name was Tobias
Swift, but many of the villagers on hearing his name branded him a witch.
They were fearful of such a man for witch trials were common. "We
dont want a man like that here, we have been damned enough!"
cried out one local. Tolliver tried to set them at ease but in the end
it was Hooktons words that resolved their plan "Who else
can we turn to?" he said, "Now that God himself could not
provide?" He turned to Carters widow who had hardly said
a word throughout the recent arduous days; placing a hand upon hers
he asked softly for her thoughts. "Send for him" she said
thickly through tears.
Word was sent and three days later the stranger Swift rode into town.
He was a tall man in a black cloak with a kindly face. However such
softness in his features did little to stop the suspicions and mild
fear rise up in the villagers as they saw a pentacle on a chain upon
his neck and a daisy chain round his wrists. He assembled the village
and pledged to do his best to rid Moon Steere of their demon. Taking
Hookton and Tolliver with him, he went into the forest that very night
to see for himself the field that had slain so many.
They walked solemnly through the forest with hardly a word between them
until they reached the stream. Swift bade the two to stand here in safe
distance and let him enter the field alone, something that, if they
were honest, they were relieved to hear. Slowly yet surely the tall
stranger walked out through the stream with determination so strong
he hardly noticed the trickling waters soak into his boots. He was soon
into the field as a mist rolled across its tall golden grass.
The fog began to steadily roll across making the tall figure of Swift
hard to see for Hookton and Tolliver, who looked at each other with
hope in their eyes for they knew this was their last chance to banish
whatever lay out there.
Out in the field Tobias Swift struggled to see out beyond the eye of
the impenetrable fog. Noise and winds as if from the Devils mouth
itself came with great force determined to send his body crashing to
the ground and decimate his limbs. But Tobias Swift was a wise man who
saw more than the average two eyes could see and he stared deep and
hard into the centre of the field as the mists enveloped him and the
beast did its worst. With great concentration he looked and looked as
hard as he had ever and saw something beyond the wind and the harsh
lights. His eyes trained on what was beyond the lights and he saw strange
visions. Slowly he looked down at his feet and saw no longer the comforting
long blades of grass that his faith had him worship. Instead he found
himself on hard yet smooth ground the likes of which he had not seen.
He realised in that very moment that he had done as he had hoped, he
had transcended the world he knew into another realm, the realm of whatever
it was that had killed the men of Moon Steere. He raised a hand and
saw that he could see straight through his own limb as he hoped he would.
Finally he took in his surroundings clearly and saw before him wave
upon wave of large carriage like objects of four wheels with piercing
lights and loud earth grinding noise speed up and through him. There
were several lanes of this aiming directly at him and others to his
left passing by him. He looked out into where he knew the stream was
and saw the shadows of Hookton and Tolliver through time. He knew now
what it was; it was a rift, a rift through time and he had seen the
Slowly he faded out and back into the field of Moon Steere. To Tolliver
and Hookton he seemed to float back towards them through the mist and
across the stream until finally his peaceful face was in front of them
"You have survived the very Devil sir?" said Tolliver with
wonder. "Tell me, what is it?" Hookton added gravely.
"It is the future," Swift replied. "It is not the devil
nor a beast, it is ourselves, man, the ultimate beast. For man will
in the future seek to destroy what I worship, the very Earth."
"I-I do not understand you sir," Hookton said astonished.
"You have in your field, a gateway, as if a door to the years ahead
of us. I warn you sir, nay I urge you, if you value your villagers
lives you must keep this field fallow in your lifetime and in the lifetimes
of the generations to come. The Future will take care of this field,
its value has already been marked."
"You mean to say we have a crossover to what is to come?"
Tolliver said with great fear in his voice
"Yes" Swift confirmed
"But how sir, how can our very future destroy us?" Tolliver
"It is nothing to fear, it is just life, your villagers crossed
over into this different realm yet to be and where slain by what is
kept there entirely by accident"
"What-what is there?" Hookton asked shakily.
"Progress they will call it. Carriages of enormous speeds that
if one where to step in front of, one would be crushed just like your
people. But it is not an evil sir; it is quite unknowing in what it
did. The people back there, well they are not to be blamed for the passageway,
but lives will be taken if you let the field be entered again"
and with that he walked up the hill leaving a fearful and astonished
Hookton and Tolliver behind him staring out at the field.
The great roar of diggers and cement churned up the very earth as the
town planner with his hard hat looked out at the plans "Imagine
it" he said over the incessant din to the foreman "roads up
and down the country all linking together, taking man to wherever he
wants faster and quicker than ever before"
"Aye" answered the foreman as he rolled his woodbine "London
in a matter of hours"
"Its progress, progress, the 1960's, the modern world"
said the planner.
The foreman chuckled "Modern world, thats what this village
up over that hill needs" as he fired up his rolled up woodbine
"Eh?" asked the planner distracted from the tarmac being laid
"That village of Moon Steere, they were going on about the land
were working on, saying its been haunted for years, its
been fallow til now apparently"
"Stupid superstition of inbred backwards eh?" The planner
chuckled. "Well weve got a use for it now, its a motorway,
gateway to wherever. The future, my friend, the future." And he
beamed with pride.
Cunliffe April 2008
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