Nick left for the farm just after seven that evening, he had spent the rest of the day making notes and talking with the other customers in the pub, most had been less then eager to discuss anything to do with their private lives, which Nick considered odd as they obviously had no problem telling the rest of the village after a few beers.
Nick had resign himself to the fact Peters had a lot of sway in the village, it was the only explanation as to why so many people would contact Nick’s office, then ignore him, he did pick up on random parts of discussions, one young couple were telling a much older man and woman that they’ve had to move their sons into their own bedroom at night because the boys were complaining about a nasty old woman who kept waking them, another man, sitting a few tables from Nick was talking on a mobile phone,
“It’s the smell, I just cannot get rid of it, first it was only at night, but now the whole house reeks of filth all the time”
This reminded Nick of his afternoon trip to the church, he had smelt something then too, and he remembered thinking how unpleasantly familiar it was, like gone off milk.
It was a very warm evening, so, Nick decided he would walk down to the farm. He had packed his laptop a couple of temperature readers, digital video camera and his old PKE metre, which to date had only ever worked once. As he walked, Nick tried very hard to focus on what he had to do that night, but found he kept straying to Jenny,
‘Would you stop!’
He shook his head, trying to clear it, this was a futile chain of thought, he would be leaving town in a few days...probably...and she lived miles away. The lane was long and clear, the light and heavy greens of the foliage on either side of the road quite a contrast against the dark grey stone, a light blue haze and wispy white clouds still dominated the sky line and all he could see for miles was yellow, orange and brown fields, it was so peaceful. Nick flipped open his note book as he walked, going over what he had so far again,
‘The villagers seem utterly exhausted and very nervous, I have over heard complaints from a great many about night time disturbances, however, people seem reluctant to talk to me, maybe due to mayor’s office who are against the investigation, Mister Peters, the mayor’s assistant is being less than helpful. Mister Abbot, local farmer ad land owner, has reported banging, smells, even animal deaths and claims to have seen his late father’s ghost, although the aspect is confusing, from what I have learned so far, there is no reason for Abbots father to be a menacing presence.
There is also the strange death of an older resident of the village, Robert Carson, who apparently died of a heart attack late into my first night, although Abbots daughter, Jenny Abbot, seems adamant that ‘Old Bob’ as the village call him, was in good health. Am spending my second night at the Abbot farm, hopefully I’ll have more tomorrow.
Nick looked up from his note book and saw the lane curve off in a bend, as he rounded the corner, he spotted the little grass island with the three arrowed sign standing in the middle, then the top of the massive hay barn appeared over the hedges. Nick felt his hands getting sweaty and his heart rated quicken, and to be honest, he had no idea if it was the night’s investigation, that was causing it or seeing Jenny again.
“Hey, Nick!” a familiar voice called as Nick turned up the drive and into the farm, Jenny was leaving one of the stables, carrying a bucket of what looked like oats. She smiled broadly as she strode over to him, wearing a baggy jumper, ripped jeans and big green wellington boots,
“So, I hear you met dad, was he nice?”
“I don’t know what’s he like usually?”
Jenny laughed, “He’s a pussy cat really, look why don’t you go up to the house while I finish off hear, I’m sure dad will get you a beer or something, he’s probably finished dinner, he’s a great cook, just up to the back door there, just go, he won’t mind” and with that, she threw him a cheeky grin and walked back towards the stables, Nick watched her hips sway as she moved,
‘Oh, that’s trouble with a capital J’ he smiled to himself at the thought.
Nick followed the path a little till he saw the house, a huge white, wood built building with pea green window frames and door, drapes covering most of the curtains, Nick couldn’t quite get over how big it was. He walked up a small flight of wooden steps to the back door and knocked once, there was no answer, Nick pushed the door and it opened easily, he really hoped Jenny was right about her father not minding him just walking in.
“Mister Abbot?” Nick called as he entered the outhouse, row upon row of plastic raincoats, wax jackets, walking sticks and flat caps, and on the floor, the largest collection of boots Nick had ever seen,
“Keith?” Nick tried again,
“That you, Nick?” a man’s voice called from further in the house, then loud footsteps approaching sounded the appearance of Keith Abbot, he smiled at Nick and held out his hand, Nick shook it then followed him into the house,
“Glad ya made it, we’ll eat in about half an hour, thought we’d ave a beer first”
“Thank you, but I actually don’t drink”
Abbot turned back and gave Nick a questioning look,
“When I’m working, don’t wanna end up seeing things, when I’m meant to be seeing things, do I?”
“Fair enough” Keith slapped him hard on the back
‘Damn, he is strong!’
“Ow bout a coffee?”
“That would be great, thanks”
Keith pointed Nick towards a door on his left, the disappeared through one on their right, Nick opened the door and found himself standing in a large sitting room, furnished with a large display cabinet, a fairly big television and a three piece suite of the most hideous, squashy pink furniture Nick had ever seen.
He walked over to the sofa and sat down, sinking in so much he actually fell back,
“Ere we go then” Keith said walking in with a bottle of beer and steaming cup of coffee,
“Great, thanks” Nick replied, taking his coffee , “So, Jenny tells me your quite the cook?”
Abbot sat down opposite him in the arm chair,
“Ha, she would wouldn’t she, see, she can’t cook, and I hate it, so she tells everyone I’m great, so she don’t ave too”
“Ah, smart plan” Nick smiled,
“So, what’s your plan for tonight?”
“I think the best place for me to set up, is probably in the barn, although I would like to leave a temperature reader in the house if that would be ok, there only small, but I will need to hang it from a ceiling”
“Should be fine, Nick, what do they do, exactly?”
“They send out a pulse, like sonar or radar, except instead of bouncing back locations of objects, they send back any hot or cold spots in a specific area, does the house get very cold at night, normally I mean?”
“No, the house is well insulated, double glazing and all that”
“Good, that will help with interference, does the barn have power?”
“It’s connected to the house don’t use the lights much though”
“I don’t need the lights I need to hook my laptop up, feed all the data from my temperature readers and digital camera back to it”
“ You two having fun?” Jenny appeared at the sitting room door, she walked to the sofa, and although it sat three, she sat down very close to Nick, which Abbot also noticed,
“Makin our visitor welcome, Jen?”
Nick felt himself go red, Abbot started to laugh,
“I’m only playin girl” he slapped Jenny’s leg, “well, better go check on diner, you two get to know each other better” and left,
“Subtle?” Jenny asked, looking into Nick’s eyes,
“No, subtle was not the word I was going for”
“He’s great, wasn’t easy, bringing me us up alone, our mum died when David was eight and I was five, cancer”
“S’ok, I didn’t really know her, David was devastated, took him years to get over it”
Abbot suddenly appeared at the door, “Jen, go get ready for diner” he snapped, she did smell a lot like horse,
“Going,” she got up, “going,” she kissed Abbot on the cheek, “gone”
Abbot waited at the door, watching her for a moment, then walked in and closed it,
“Look, Nick, I haven’t told the kids about me dad or what really happened to Star, I just don’t think they need to know that stuff”
“I understand,” Nick replied, “but you must understand you may not be able to hide it from them forever, what if I actually capture something on film, will you tell them then?”
“If I ave ta, I will, don’t you worry, but thanks, Nick”
Nick smiled back at the old man, “Not a problem”, and Abbot left again. Nick was quite used to keeping things to himself, a number of times, he and Gareth had been called to family homes where they had been instructed not to tell the children what they were really doing there, which Gareth had enjoyed to the max, making up stories like, “Oh we’re the Santa inspectors, we have to measure chimneys for him”, which Nick had thought hysterical. He sat on the squashy sofa, thinking about the old days, with Gareth, before Upton, sitting up all night, chasing orbs (tiny balls of light that are supposed to indicate a paranormal presence) and drinking far too much coffee, god he’d been bored, but they were fun, Gareth was always joking around.
Nick became so lost in his chain of thought, he almost completely missed Jenny appearing in the door and calling him for diner,
“Are you joining us, or are you just going to wait for the ghosts to come to you?”
“Huh? Oh sorry” Nick stood up and followed her out of the living room and across the hallway, through the door Abbot had used earlier,
“Sit down there, Nick” Abbot pointed to one of six chairs around the large round kitchen table, which just happened to be right next to Jenny’s seat. Nick sat down looked over the spread, freshly baked French loaves, meats of all descriptions and plenty of salad, Abbots way cooking without actually cooking,
“So how long have you been hunting ghosts, Nick?” Jenny asked,
“About six years now, I really am never going to convince people to stop calling it that, am I?” he smiled at her, Jenny giggled,
“Nope, you’re doomed to be a ghost hunter forever”
“Oh stop goading the lad Jen, he’ll have had enough of us before nightfall”,
“Oh, I don’t mind” Nick was going red again.
The three of them ate and joked and laugh together till quite late into the evening, until Jenny had looked at the clock above the kitchen stove and exclaimed,
“Oh crap, David’s waiting for me” and she shot up, kissed her father and Nick on the cheek and tore off down the hall, as soon as they heard the back door close, Abbot turned to Nick,
“I’ve asked David to get Jen to stay at his place tonight I really don’t want her caught up in all this, specially with her final year coming up after the summer”
“ As I said, I won’t tell Jenny anything you don’t want me too, but...”
“I know, I may ave ta anyway, but till then..”
“Till then” Nick smiled, he liked the old man.
After about another hour of chatting, Abbot told Nick he was going up to bed, and that Nick should feel free to move around the house and grounds freely, but to remember not leave any gates open, Nick said goodnight, then opened his bag and removed one of the temp readers, which he attached to a strong piece of thread and hung from the light fitting in the middle of the kitchen ceiling, check it was reading the whole room, Nick picked up his bag and went to head for the back door, then it hit him, like a punch in the face, a smell so foul he could not even describe it. He went back to the reader to check for any cold spots, but found nothing, perhaps it was a fault in the pipes or waste disposal, it won’t be the first time he’d investigated leaky pipes. Nick pulled out the little black PKE (psychic kinetic energy) metre from his pocket, as usual, the metres little pin, which should flicker if there is a build up of kinetic energy in the area, was sitting on zero, once and only once had it ever moved, and Nick didn’t think that actually had anything to do with kinetic energy.
Nick waited for a moment, just to see if anything began to manifest itself with the smell, but the house was cool and silent, which the exception of Abbots heavy footsteps above his head. Nick pocketed the PKE metre and picked his bag up, then headed to the outhouse and out through the back door, the country looked so different at night, despite the lights pouring through the upstairs windows of the house, the farm was black, pitch black. Nick walked up the path slowly, looking left and right as he passed the stables and what looked like pig pens. He reached the huge barn and pulled a small side door open.
Inside reeked of hay and animals, the smell quite overpowering, Nick wondered if he’d actually be able to sit here all night. The barn was quite chilly, despite the warm summer night, almost completely empty, just a few scattered bits of farm equipment and bales of hay in the loft at the far end of the barn. Abbot had told Nick that the second loft, at this end of the barn would have plug sockets, and large, two door loading hatch that he could use to see the fields beyond the barn yard.
Nick found the loft to be very spacious and the smell of hay lifted when he opened the loft doors, as did the cold, Nick took out another temp reader, then walked out, over some long beams supporting barn roof, about fifteen feet from the ground, he laid it down on the middle of the beam he was walking across, then went back, slowly and carefully, not looking forward to having to retrieve it in the morning. He found the sockets Abbot had mentioned and plugged in his laptop, turned it on, then opened the temp readers monitor, only having to keep an eye on would make things much easier, after all, there was no point in putting one in the middle of a field.
Two hours later, and wishing he’d thought to bring a thermos of coffee with him, Nick was starting to feel very cold. He’d been sitting in the opening of the barn’s loading hatch, watching the fields through the night vision on his camera, and had seen absolutely nothing, except what he thought might have been a badger. Looking round the loft, Nick found an old blanket that smelt distinctly like horse, but he didn’t care. Wrapping himself up, Nick sat back down, crossing his legs and placing the laptop carefully on it, then sent it crashing to the ground as he jumped to his feet, something was in the field, walking very slowly across the horizon, a ghostly white figure.
Nick grabbed his camera and had hit record before it even reached his eye, zooming in he tried to locate the figure again, but could not find it. He took the camera away and looked again, straining his eyes, sure enough, the figure was still there, although it had changed direction, and now appeared to be heading towards the yard. Nick tried to lock on with the camera again, but could not pick it the figure up, then, he had an idea, turning the record off, Nick raised the camera again, and looked, she was there, it was definitely a woman,
“How could she have known I was recording?” he asked the empty loft. Nearly two hundred feet away, the ghostly woman stopped and looked up into the barn, then smiled at Nick,
“And she can hear me” his hands were starting to shake like they hadn’t for over two years, he could feel sweat building on his forehead, and his heart was pounding in his chest.
The woman continued to walk towards the farm yard, Nick was mesmerised by her, she looked the way he imagined an angel would look, ethereal white, he no menace or anger at all, even his nerves had begun to settle, he could not explain why, he just trusted her, and he thought he recognised her, the curve of her nose and the shape of face, the way she moved,
“Oh my god,” Nick exclaimed out loud, “It’s Jenny’s mother”
The woman reached the back door of the farm house and stepped right through it. Nick panicked, he couldn’t just sit there and hope the shock of suddenly seeing his dead wife didn’t kill Abbot, he had to warn him, he ran to the loft ladder and slid down it, running for the barn door, it was stuck, he pulled and pulled at the knob but the door would not budge. Nick looked for the main barn doors, they were huge, with an enormous beam of wood in place to keep them shut, he would never be able to move it in time, there was only one other way out.
Nick tore back up the ladder and ran to the hatch, he looked out, fifteen feet he gulped hard, never really being very good at heights, closed his eyes, and jumped. He landed hard, flat on both feet, then toppled onto his side, Nick picked himself up, wincing at the pain in his feet, then started to half run half limp towards the farm house, he passed a small window, through which main staircase could be seen, Nick stopped dead as he saw Jenny’s mother appear at the foot, she turned to look at him, then raised a finger to her lips and made a ‘shush’ sound Nick could actually hear, even through the double glazed window, then she turned and walked up the stairs,
‘Jesus, she’s completely self aware!’
Nick reached the back door and tried to pull it open, it to resisted, this time however, Nick lost patience and grabbed the handle in both hands, putting both feet on the house wall, he pulled until the door came right through the lock, splintering wood everywhere,
‘Let’s see if Keith heard THAT!’
Nick ran into the hallway then on through to the kitchen, he found the stairs the woman had climbed a moment ago, and shot up. He had just realised he had no idea where he was going, when the smell hit him again, this time he knew where it was coming from, the same room as the man’s terrified voice scream,
“NOOOOOOO!” Nick rushed to the door and tried to open it,
“KEITH!” Nick yelled at the top of his voice, “KEITH LET ME IN, THE DOORS LOCKED!” Nick twisted and pulled the handle, but the heavy door would not move,
“GET AWAY FROM ME, YOU AINT HEATHER, YOU CAN’T BE!”
Then Nick actually stopped dead in his efforts as he heard a second voice, unlike anything he had ever heard, something between a woman speaking and a cat screaming,
“Come wiiith meee, my looove”
Nick stood back from the door, raised his foot and kicked out with all the strength he could muster, and the door imploded off its hinges, Nick ran in and almost screamed himself.
The heavenly figure he had watched walking through the yard, was now a rotten, decaying corpse, maggot and insect infested, reeking and filthy. She looked as though she had spent the last ten years under water, slimy and disgusting. Nick raised a hand to his mouth in fear of vomiting she turned her head away from Abbot and looked at Nick, both her eyes were missing, empty sockets staring at him in the dark,
“GET AWAY!” Abbot was still shouting, a lot braver than Nick felt at that moment, “YOU ARE NOT MY WIFE!” and at that, the creature took one last look at Abbot, and vanished, leaving only its vile smell behind. Nick ran to the bedroom window and looked out into the yard, there was no sign of movement in the dark, but from the barn, Nick could hear loud banging, and crashing,
“Oh not my laptop, please not my laptop”
Both men decided to stay together for the rest of the night, they sat up in the kitchen, having gone back the barn, after the banging had stopped, to check on Nick’s equipment, everything had been smashed to pieces,
“Can you get a new one?” Abbot asked as Nick examined what used to be his laptop,
“It wasn’t mine, it belonged to the institute, Fran’s gonna kill me”
“Who Fran, no, just a work friend, she’s a bit of a tech expert, very nerdy”
“What are you gonna tell them?”
“I don’t know, the truth, I just wish I had some evidence, other than broken equipment”
“Well, there’s still time” Abbot said comfortingly,
Nick was about to respond, when both men sat bolt right in their chairs, a terrible, loud crashing sound had come from outside, they leapt to their feet and ran for the back door, swing it open, they ran to the middle of yard, and stopped, not believing what they were seeing, Nick grabbed the camera still hanging round his neck and flicked the record on, pointing it out into the field beyond the yard, which was full of animals.
At least ten horses and sheep and cows numbering in the dozens, all charging through the field in blind panic, as Nick watched, the horses tried jumping the field gate, into the yard, some of them made it, but a couple took heavy falls, landing hard. The cows hit the gate at full pelt, smashing it with their heads, at least five cows actually went down from the impact, knocking themselves out, or breaking their necks.
The sheer mass of cattle moving against the gate was pushing the horses that had fallen along the ground, and pinning them up against the stable wall, Nick and Abbot were helpless to act as the night was filled with the screams of dying animals. The sheep were trying to force their way past or through the cows, but their little legs couldn’t keep them up against the wave of cows, they were being knocked flying, or falling under the hooves of the larger beasts. Nick kept recording, the animals still running as fast as their bodies would allow through the farm yard, Nick was so astonished he didn’t register how close the lead animals had gotten,
“LOOK OUT!” screamed Abbot and he grabbed Nick, pulling him into the bushed that ran along the side of the house.
The horses, cows and remaining sheep ran on, out into the lane and thunderd away into the distance, leaving nothing but a destroyed gate and several carcases behind,
“What the fu.....” Nick just stared at the smashed gate and dead sheep, cows and horses, over a dozen of them lined the field and farm yard,
“I never seen anything like it?” Abbot stood, mouth wide in shock, “I seen animals stampede sure, but not like that, never like that”
Nick walked into the yard, he flipped open his mobile phone, took a clear shot of the destruction and corpses, took a photo, then attached it to a text message to Terry with one word as message,