Jack climbed to the top of the second gates stye, and looked out into the valley, a large smile spread over his face, why had he waited so long to come down here, he could have been sitting on the tree trunk by the stream all day, instead he'd sat in the living room, drinking coffee and eating biscuits with Anne! Still, didn't matter now, he was here, the full moon right above his head was lighting the whole valley, when there wasn't a think cloud bank covering it, suddenly, the quiet night was broken by the sound of an enormous 'splash',
"Found the stream then, Rosie!".
Jack sat on the gate and lit a cigarette, his eyes incapable of leaving the sky line and hill tops, the scene was breath taking, sparking his imagination into over drive. As a child, he had often invisioned creatures of differing size, type and stature walking those hill tops, the forms nothing but shandow against the night sky, Dinosaurs, robots, giants and numerous other impossible entertys. He finished his cigarette and flicked the hot, molten ash tip on to the stones of the path and stamped it out, putting the butt into his pocket, he refused to litter in anyway,
"ROSIE!", he called into the dark, "WHERE ARE YOU?", he hadn't heard a peep of the black lab for a few minutes now, before he had heard her leave the stream, but then nothing, no claw on stone, no tell tale sounds of a happy tail wagging against bushes, nothing?
Jack began the near vertical descent into the black abys of the valley, the path down to the stream was only a few hundred feet, but unless you know the path quite well, the pot holes and mole hills could take you buy surprise, Jack had never fallen the hill, but had had nightmares about doing so as a child that had always made him weary of climbing up and down,
"ROSIE!, where is that dog?!", he said to himself as he made his way down. Reaching the half way mark, he watched as Snow Farm disappeared to his left, then forwards towards the little stone bridge and the stream. Across the stream was a sort of 'T' in the path, both paths lead to ajoining fields. The first followed the base of the valley, leading off to the left, the second lead up the opposite hill side Jack was walking down, if you followed far enough, you would come to a small stone cottage, with a beautiful rose garden, then up to a main road the ran the length of the valley top, back towards Stroud.
The stream ran through the whole of the valley, from the bridge, if you looked right, it ran along the base of the valley side, left, it entered an area Jack always called the 'dead woods', it wasn't a wood, just a very large space surrounded by trees that never seemed to bare an leaves, their branches all over crossed each other, making entering the 'dead woods' very difficult. Jack crossed the bridge and headed towards the 'dead woods' looking for Rosie,
"where the hell are you??!!", he was about to try and push one of the thorny branches aside when he head a loud panting sound from behind him, turning, he saw a large set of brown eyes running towards him from the hillside field,
"Ahuh", he said in a disapproving tone, "and what are we looking so happy about!", he bent down to stroke her and let her lick his face, when Jack realised that Rosie wasn't actually happy at all, in fact, he stood up again, she seemed very nervous?
"Whats got into you?!", he asked the lab, then he heard a shuffle sound, coming from the other side of the wood fence which seperated the hillside field from the valley bottom. It was really dark, to dark to see, but Jack had the sickening feeling, he knew who was out there,
"Come on, Rosie", he began, "time to go home!".
Jack took the lead from his pocket, and clipped it to her collar, Rosie did not struggle, instead she drew closer to him, keeping the side of her body up against his leg. Jack knew there were only two types of people out this late, working without torch or light, snarers, and badger baiters, people who dug up badger dens and allowed their dogs , usually fighting dogs like pitbull terriers, to burrow into the tunnels, chasing the badgers out, where the drunk, sick, idiot owners would smash their heads in with shovels or sledge hammers, apparently, this was fum?! Either way, Jack wasn't planning on a confrontation, he and rosie would quietly walk back up the hillside, and home, ignorant of anything!
Jack and Rosie were half way back up the hill when Rosie stopped, and turned back, whining gently, her little body shaking,
"Rosie, come on!", Jack tugged at her lead, but the little lab refused to move, "Rosie!", then he saw what she was whining at, the moon had broken free of the clouds and had revealed a figure, standing alone on the little stone bridge, just over a hundred feet away. He, Jack assumed it was a he from his stature and posture, was short, about 5'6 Jack guessed, he appeared to be wearing a long, black over coat that reached down past his feet and a strange black hat, like a trilby hat, like they wear in 1950's gangster films, only its top was rounder. His face was a blur, Jack couldn't make out any of his features, but its shape reminded him of a full moon, almost perfectly round and bright white,
"Rosie!!", Jack snarled through gritted teeth, "Move your ARSE!!!", and with that, he pulled her lead so hard, she nearly toppled over, but now her concerntration was broken, Rosie bounded along beside him.
They reached the second gate, Jack couldn't help himself, he looked back, towards the stream, the figure was still there, watching them, Jack was starting to feel extremely uncomfortable, who was this guy, why was he just watching them? Two things then happened, at the same time, first, a massive cloud bank moved in front of the moon, stealing all light from the valley, Jack watched as the 'moon faced' man disappeared in the flood of darkness claiming the way below. The other, was the noise, if it hadn't been for the lack of rain, lightning, or humidity, Jack would have sworn it was thunder, but then, there was no loud cracking sound, just the rumbling. The sound kept increasing, the decreasing, over and over,
"Rosie, lets go!", Jack said nervously, talking to Rosie was making him feel a lot less alone, the noise continued. Jack increased his pace of walk, moving his feet very quickly, in very long strides, back up the path, towards the blue gate, the sound, was getting louder.
He and Rosie reached the blue gate, Jack leaping the stye and Rosie once again squeezing under the gate, they were on the home leg, two minutes, and they'd be in the house. Jack had been out later than this, and alone, yet he had never felt this unnerved! The noise was booming now, and Jack was sure it was moving too, and unless he was very much mistaken, it was moving the same way he was. Then light broke onto the lane, they were at the corner by the house, the two twin garages coming up in their right and then the house itself, light pouring out through the upstairs windows.
Jack opened the gate and let Rosie run into the garden, she headed straight for the back door, but it was shut. Jack tried the latch, but it had been bolted from the inside, a note was pinned to the door in an envelope, Jack removed the note and a heavy chubb key. Anne had gone to bed, leaving him the key to the loft he was going to be sleeping in and telling him to take Rosie with him, so, he picked up her lead, and they walked up onto the houses hillside garden and to wards the loft at the far end of the house, Jack unlocked the door and turned on the light.
Rosie ran in and jumped up on to his camp bed, Jack sniffed the air, it was old and musty, the lost was filled with all manner of junk! Old gardening tools, a broken bike, several paintings and something that might have once been a syth?! Jack closed the door and pushed Rosie off the bed, it had been a long day and he wanted to sleep, the events of the last ten minutes had left him very shakey, he tried to stay as still and quiet as possible, trying to make out if the noise outside had stopped ir not, he couldn't tell, but something was going on out there, in the night, because Rosie, was now growling at the loft door.