"Where the HELL, do you think your going?!!",
"Sarah, hun, sweetie, ten minutes!, I'm just gonna run down the Offie, then come straight back, pleeeeeeaaaase, don't tell Jen?!!,
I smiled sweetly as I could at her, Sarah was OK, she could go on sometimes, always been brighter than us, in all the top classes at school, only one who scored the kinda marks needed for the Grammer schools books. She was pretty, I guess? Not hot, not conventionally like Kate the Bitch, but Sarah wasn't unattractive, long, but well boned face, big brown eyes, always partial to blue myself but whatever. She stood at about my height, 5'9, very slender, not exactly 'stacked' but like I said, not ugly, no, not ugly.
"Mike, I swear to god?!", she half laughed, "One show I'm gonna get caught letting you go into town at Interval and then who's gonna rescue me?! Hmmm?!", I half smiled, rubbing the back of my head, doing my utmost best to look pathetic, which looking back now, really wasn't hard!
"Ten mintues, I swear to god!",
"OK, Sar any minute now it's gonna be to late anyway, you know you are benefiting from this little prison break yourself!",
"True, go" .
And go I did, running the length of the corridor running back stage to the back door of the Hall we were performing in, almost killing the Ghost of Christmas Past, again?!, as I rushed past. Had to hit the back door before Jen, the deputy stage manager, caught me, the cast and crew were forbidden to leave the Hall during performance time, even intervals, well after what happened during the final night of Oliver!, guy playing Bill, decided to nip down the local for a bit of 'dutch courage!' and ended up so drunk, that when the scene where he has to kill Nancy, comes up, he nearly does! God that took some creative add-libbing to get away with no one noticing how bad it had got!
There was a light breeze outside, having escaped the Hall unnoticed, I made my way swiftly down the road to the only Off license for miles, there was no way I'd have made it there before close, after the show, besides, there were kids. Always kids waiting to say hello to Tiny Tim and Mister Scrooge, it then dawned on me why the people I was passing kept giving me odd looks, I was still in full make up and costume as Bob Cratchet! "Head low, eyes down, if you can't see them, they can't see you!", was pretty much all I could think! Idiot.
Idiot was right, on arriving at the Offie and collecting a 12 pack of tinned larger, two bottles of vodka and a bottle of coke, asking for a further two packets of cigarettes and a king size pack of silver rizla.......I realised I had left my wallet in my own clothes, after much debate and convincing that I was in the local production of A Christmas Carol, which is what I was doing in this ridiculous outfit, the shop keeper agreed to run a tab till the following day for me. I checked my watch, I'd been twenty minutes, the curtain would be back up in five minutes!
Running out of the shop and down the street and full pelt, I wasn't in the next few scenes, but If I arrived back after the curtain went back up, Jen would be at her desk, which could see the back door! I reached the little alley, running between the village video shop and the Hall, I crept down, keeping the clanking vodka bottles as quite as I could. I reached the door,
The second act overture, I'm screwed. As I reached out to take to door handle, I heard a, "pssting", I looked around, thinking Jen or worse Sarah, had decided to wait for me, with the music and microphone enhanced voices, they could scream at me all they wanted!
"oi, up here nob rot!", i looked up, Tom! He was standing in what must have been the mens toilets, hanging out the window, grinning broadly,
"take ya DAMN time!", he whispered, "pass up the bags first!",
I reached up as high as I could, Tom, being rather taller at 6ft, reached down and grabbed the handles, heaving them up and through the window, which then closed,
"youuuuu bastard!", I whispered in the direction of the window, Toms giggling face appearing a minute later,
"come on then, you muppet!", and he reached down.
The Hill stands before me, bathed in the most terrible and ominous dark I have ever seen, it's so thick, it could almost be liquid. My torch hand is trembling, i turn it's light on, just for a second, just so I can see where I'm going, I turn it on. The first thing its picks up is the figure standing in the road ahead of, a black mass, but a figure, I think it moves and stagger back, loosing footing on the uneven cobble road, almost dropping the precious torch, the beam swinging wildly as I go, finding my footing, I swing the light back at the figure, the lane is empty, nothing but the bushes and trees, that have grown so high, they've reached over to each other across the road, making a canopy, blanketing the road.
My heart is racing as I try to take that first difficult step, every hair on my body is on end, goose bumps sending electric shivers up my body,
"I can't stand this!", I stated to the night, instantly wishing I hadn't, I know it's waiting for me, I know I've started something I don't even begin to understand! but does it have to be so cruel?! Now there was sound at all, the noises from the ditches and bushes had stopped, even the wind seemed to have ceased its song through the trees, I don't know which was worse? The feeling that things were there, following me as I made my way back, or the wondering if those things were about to leap out at me.
"But you know those things are there, don't you?!", my brain is working against me now, not satisfied with playing tricks on me with shadows and light, now it felt the urge to remind me that the things I now feared more than any other, were waiting for me in everyone of those bushes, in the dark.
Just as the lane began its steep rise, the torch light flickered, I hesitate, then flick it off,
"Have to save it for the village, you know you'll need it!", the though pounding through my brain. Something moves behind me, back down the lane, I felt it move! Already I could feel my body turning to look,
"Why do you have to look?!!", it was true, I probably shouldn't, but blind fear and curiosity were pushing me to turn,
"Just your head then!", my brain shrieks at me, "Look with your head, so you don't have to turn to run!", I was panicking myself, but I couldn't help it! I turn my head back, looking down the short distance of the hill I've already climbed, looking from left to right, trying to tell the difference between tree and bush in the dark, nothing, at least nothing I can see?
I turn my head back up the hill nervously, taking each step as gently as possible, if something was moving I would hear it, and then what? I carried on climbing the hill, eyes darting from left to right then back in front of me, my bladder was aching,
"Not now, please not now!", pissing in my pants maybe an inevitable response to my situation, but not now, please?!.
Then it happens again, a presence crossing the road behind me, shifting from dark bank to bank, but soundless, not a footstep, this time I'm not going to turn, I'm going to keep going up! Thats when I spot the top, the canopy has broken a fraction, letting in a spot light of the moons glow, lighting the path for just a moment. I feel warmed by this, I pick up my pace again, heart thumping like its going to explode.
A few of the hairs on the back of my head swish, but there is still no wind, no breeze at all, and that feeling, that all consuming knowing that something has crossed the lane behind me has returned, and then there truly terrifying reality sets in,
"Its moved closer...",
Whatever it was, was now close enough for it make a breeze through the air, or was it my imagination again? Oh I only wish it was. I keep moving, wishing I could one day say, "I kept going, unphased and ready!", but I was phased, I was shit scared and then some. The hill top was getting closer, the stess of climbing was getting worse though, as if the hill was getting steeper?! Movement again, the slight breeze joined by a hiss in the air, not the wind, not this time, this hiss was the sound of a voice, an unrecognisable voice, not man or woman or child. My whole body is going into shock, it passes behind me again even closer than before and its hiss has becoming a rasping breath that can't be coming from anything alive!
That faint patch of light is drawing closer, I'm almost flat out now, my legs working against the ever increasing steepness of the hill,
"It is getting steeper", It was. I could see the light moving up and away, NO! No it couldn't! It was the moon, shifting in the wind!
"What? the wind you can't feel?"
I ignore myself, I have to! Repeatedly telling myself it was the wind and animals was stopping me going completely over the edge, even I know I'm lying to myself. I bend my knees and give the hill all the strength I can, pushing harder and fast into the lane as I climb up and on, it moves again, this time I feel something swish across my legs, like someones just passed me wearing a long cloak, or robe, its voice whispers in my ear as it passes, but its to faint to make out, but thats enough to get me running, as fast as I can move up the hill, but i know its right on my heels,
"Faster! for fucks sake move!!", is all I'm thinking, the top of the hill is right in front of me, the light mere metres away! In one last effort I through myself forward, as a hand comes down my shoulder, grasping it tightly with long, thin, bony fingers, I can feel icy cold chills on the side of my face, inches from the hand, and a foul rotten breath. From nowhere I kick back, hitting nothing but falling forwards and scrambling on my hands and knees into the light, seconds till I'm in,
An unearthly voice screams my name right into my ear, I scream and turn back to face the creature that had stalked me up the hill, has grabbed my shoulder with a grip of pure ice, smells of death and knows my name.........but the lane is empty, just a long dark tunnel, leading back the way I came. I sat in the pool of moon light breaching the canopy, looking up at the face in the sky, the one i had spent so many nights staring at, even talking to, was now looking down on me, and he was no friend.
Taking just a minute or two, thats all I can afford, Tom, Pete and Kate needed me, I look down the next side of the hill, but would they have done this for me? Pete would, although he would have waited for the Police with Sarah, or would he have fled in the first place? Pete was strong, a real fighter if you pushed the right buttons and this would have definitely pushed his buttons, he'd be raging by now, probably want to follow that thing back into the dark!
"Probably best he isn't here really",
Standing up, I'm getting ready to carry on, hope to hell that thing wasn't waiting for me at the bottom of the hill, then cursed myself for thinking it, when i saw, to my complete horror, that the light pool, was shrinking! I stared back down the second half of the hill, there was clear moon light just after the base, just by the corner leading to the farm. Then I felt it, turning my head, slowly, so slowly, I saw the shape, like figure, completely black against the lane, its robe or cloak fluttering slightly. it was watching me from the centre of the very bottom of the lane, the part I'd just climbed, it had gone back? Then in a flash, it moves ten yards up the hill, reaching out with hands I can't see, hissing at me!
The moon pool catches my attention again, its shrunk more, the creature moves, the pool shrinks and it finally settles in that the moment the pool is gone, the creature will have me. I run. I run at the descending half of the hill at full pace, moving so fast the my feet hardly hit the cobbles, the creature is right behind me, its moving from side to side of the lane, I can feel it! But it's getting closer and closer, I can actually hear its cloak/robe flap in the breeze made by its own movements, I can smell its deathly scent. The bottom of the hill is fifty yards, the creature moves up behind me again, then it grabs my hand, its holding my hand in its icy grip, squeezing it, I feel like I'm about to scream out or collapse give up and die, when it lets go, my hand is free.
I bound forwards, leaping and running at the same time, I know its still there, I know its following and any minute will be close enough to grab me again, twenty yards to go. Faster and faster, jumping, running, my heart racing and pulse pounding, the sound of blood in my ears deafening, ten yards to go, the creature now gone. I can feel it anymore? I turn my head just slightly, to look back as I run, and see the lane clear, nothing, I turn back, now determined to reach the bottom of the hill before it decides to come back, when I see it, Its there, right in my way, just standing there waiting for me,
"PETE, TOM, KATE!"
I am so scared, the black figure, this creature isn't moving, it doesn't have too, it knows where I'm going, its been playing with me,
"PETE, TOM, KATE!!",
I'm right, I have to try and get past, for them, so I close my eyes, pick up all my courage and strength, and run. I don't know how long I'm running, trying to pin point the moment when I should collide with the creature, but it never comes? My foot sticks in the lane, cobble. I fall forward onto my face, then my legs go over my head, I spin over two more times before landing sickeningly hard on the cobble lane, head down to the road, eyes closed....I don't want to look up, I want to stay here, I want to keep my eyes closed till someone comes for me.
I open my eyes, not looking up, but theres light, its bright, it shines off the cobbles, looking up at last, I see the bright moon lit sky, then lowering my vision slightly, see the end of the lane, for now, and the entrance to the old farm.