Author G. Jefferies
This is part three of the story that is serialised on my blog. I say story, but it’s really a sequence of short fiction pieces that find themselves being drawn inexorably together. This one moves away from the house to find the paranormal investigators watching what might be a ghost or the eerie sound of a fox barking.
For those following, or indeed new, to this particular tale the sequence leading to Ghost Walk, in chronological order, is listed below;
If you want to see more then please say so in the comments and please feel free to share any of my post. It will be appreciated.
Jake walked on. It was close to midnight and a Hunter’s Moon hung on the horizon. An enormous cyclopean eye, casting an orange hued gaze over the ancient road he trod. Long buried beneath the passage of time, linking two deceased waypoints on an even longer trail to places lost in antiquity.
Trees lined parts of the route, some already dropping autumnal foliage to add to the layers. Bedding the ancient thoroughfare into a deepening tomb. They added atmosphere. Part skeletal branches, silhouetted by the all Seeing Eye, moving in the wind waiting to snag an unwary soul and pull them under the earths to lie with those that, in another time, marched this route.
But, to what? A town or maybe a battle, perhaps one that silenced this road forever. Jake reasoned somewhere back in time someone must have walked the same path on the stone causeway that now lay interred by the overgrowth and worm turn of centuries, and, that at some point, someone also did it for the very last time.
He watched mist beginning to overlay neighbouring fields and scale mounds, or interrupted hedgerows that delineated his path. The battle wraiths returning to the road to make the long journey home. He shuddered, maybe a nocturnal adventure was not such a good idea. All he could think of now was the last march on the subterranean stones. The noise of feet striking the ground, the clatter of armour or sheathed swords and the banter of warriors, as they moved ever onwards. He could even smell the sweat of men baking under a searing sun, and the unsung anthem march on for inglorious death awaits. Hairs sprang up on the back of his neck. The ghost mist curled around his feet and the Cyclops looked on.
A sound broke his reverie and he paused to listen deeper. Nothing stirred, save the wind stroking the leaves of a nearby oak that stood proudly, overseeing this stretch of road. Some of it’s summer clothes fell into the mist. Across the fields to the left a fox barked from beneath the fog screen. Settled, Jake began moving once more.
There it is again, he thought, but closer.
This time he was sure. Footsteps, he could hear footsteps behind him. Old ones, for the footfall on today’s grassy terrain would not resonate the same. He slowed down, expecting whatever was behind to carry on. Disturbingly, it matched his pace and even ceased as he came to a standstill, taking stock. Perspiration beaded on his forehead. The urge to look back grew, but his eyes rested firmly on the mist ahead.
Unconsciously, his fingers flexed, curled into fists and opened again. His palms moist despite the cool night air. Inside adrenaline flowed. Ghosts and wraiths washed over the landscape. The Eye laughing at him under a cloudless sky. Jake set off again and the sound behind followed, twinning him stride for stride. He panicked and whirled round, ready to take flight. Mist greeted his eyes, along with an empty bygone thoroughfare. He walked forwards.
“Is anybody there?”
An owl hooted from the guardian oak just passed. In front of him emptiness stretched back into the mist, illuminated by moon glow and shadow. His own exhaled breath, chilled in the night air, added to the fog. In the distance a farmhouse light twinkled like some lighthouse beacon surrounded by sea mist.
What is it warning of? Jake’s mind was questioning.
He took five paces forwards, and behind five steps followed. This time it took several minutes to swallow the lump in his throat and try to wrest control of a heart that was beating way too fast and loud. He could feel it in his ears. Somehow he knew turning was irrelevant. All that would greet his eyes would be the misty relic of road, extending ever onwards betwixt the parallel boundary hedgerows defining it’s route. Fear crawled upwards from his stomach and sharpened his mind. The night was awake in his head. The fox barked again, and another answered. He could smell the moist earth and see the skeletal branches ominously reaching out. Sounds beyond the fox lay dead under the blanket of ground fog. Even the lighthouse beacon blinked out, suffocated by the mist.
He turned nevertheless. The road was as he envisaged. Jake guessed he had less than a mile left before reaching his goal. At the end would be the Royal Oak Coach House and Stables, a room until morning and, perhaps, something warm to eat, and an ale. The doors, he was told, never shut by day or by night. Lying in wait, as it did, on a cross roads for weary travellers.
He continued on his former route for several minutes, before his heart banged louder as the footsteps returned. This time they were closer; he began to run. For a time space grew between the unseen follower and running man. His breath became laboured and ragged. Looking over his shoulder was the mistake a skeleton tree was waiting for. Out of the mist a branch reared and Jake’s temple ran square into it. Dazed he fell under the fog blanket and onto moist wet grass. The stone footsteps ran nearer, out of synchronisation as if knowing he was downed.
Groggy, he stood up and felt a sharp impact on his back. Shocked, he looked down and his eyes greeted the front end of a blade. He tried to draw breath, but heard only gurgling as blood filled what remained of his lungs. In his eyes the fog in front grew deeper and deeper, joining the mist in his eyes until all was one, and another light went out in the darkness. Déjà vu was his very last thought alongside the dimming sound of a fox laughing.
Across the field on the right, Allan and Joseph Carmichael looked at each other in wide eyed amazement. They sat in a purpose built cabin, on a track that led to the rear grounds of the Royal Oak. Locally, it was called the ghost walk, and something the publican had tapped into after the bizarre incident of manifesting Victorian letters personally addressed to one of his patrons. A few choice press releases and the paranormals had, more or less, set up in residence.
“Al, did you just see that?”
“Are you referring to the spectral chap that just got murdered on the old road down below, or the barking fox that just legged it toward the river from whence this accursed mist originates?”
Allan rolled his eyes. “The fox obviously.”
“Ah, then no, I was fixed upon the transpiring murderous activity and villainy we came here to witness.”
Their tones were quiet, disguising the fact that both were deathly white and somewhat rattled by the events that ended the days of the traveller who, unknown to them, had been called Jake.
Joseph put a trembling hand on his brother’s shoulder.
“You were right Al, the Hunter’s Moon at this time of year is clearly the key.”
He was remembering the research that first gave them the name of the Oak. A very long standing ale house stretching far back in time where it served as a waypoint for horses and travellers alike. Tales of a lonely traveller, murdered one night on his way down this very road. Once a year he could be seen wandering the old right of way, trying to identify his killer, reliving the journey under the watchful gaze of the orange Eye.
It was Allan that had linked dates and descriptions leading to this very eve, when the Hunter’s Moon grew full, casting it’s gaze straight down what remained of an ancient highway.
The paranormal brothers were staring at blinking lights on two recording cameras, one capturing the visible spectrum and one not. It was the latter that held their attention. Allan broke the silence
“Do you think it recorded anything?”
“Given our usual good fortune, I strongly suspect it holds evidence of the nocturnal wanderings of a fox, and not the events that transpired on the dead road.”
Allan noted the choice of words, dead road in more ways than one Jo.
Overhead the cyclops looked on, as it did every year, watching Jake take the last ever walk on a road that fell into disuse centuries before the paranormal brothers found life.
If you reached the end then, dear reader, you have my sincere thanks. I hope the turn away from the house, Elizabeth and The Room is not met with disdain. The house itself features in more than one story. It’s history spreads through centuries and the paranormal brothers are closing in on a deeper mystery, that is, if they survive. They were three, but in The Bequest, Joe Stringer has a vision that deals death. Two now survive.
Please feel free to share if you like 👻
© G Jefferies and Fictionisfood, 2016. All rights reserved.
You drew me right in and I was silently telling him.”don’t look back” just run although when I first started reading I was thinking of the echo you sometimes get when you walk and then the light went on 😉
Jake was never meant to be a ghost at the start. I was trying to capture the feelings you can get when walking through old ruins. That sense of history that went on before; bit like that echo you mentioned. If you can (and I don’t think everyone can, or does) then you can almost feel time standing still and here the past working. It was when he realised things were going “wrong” that I started the “What if” cycling and given I had the paranormal brothers already cast I thought it might tie into their world quite nicely. Of course that meant Jake had to be on a constant vigil walking this road over and over again!
Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂
I love old ruins you can wander and lose yourself in the atmosphere I seem to switch off from the world I am in…my other half is used to me doing that…He just leaves me to wander and dream if you can call it that 🙂 you portrayed the atmosphere very well Gary 🙂
You are talking my language; it’s like tuning into the past and seeing (feeling?) people living in the ruins as they once were. I think the official term nowadays is zoning out 😉 I based “Deadmen Of Dunharrow” on another real castle Carreg Cennen in Wales. I did it for a friend who now lives in Utah, but grew up near there. It was supposed to be a wheeze, but the paranormal borthers couldn’t do a vacation without some sort of “happening” so it got blended into my series 🙂
Thank you for the compliment too; always appreciated when writing is on display 🙂
You are welcome Gary 🙂
My heart was racing along with Jake’s as he quickened his pace trying to lose the footsteps catching up to him. Such vivid imagery!:-)
Thank you Judy. Really appreciate you taking time to read and comment. The odd thing is, when I was writing it I didn’t consider Jake as a ghost until quite late on. I often find things never quite turn out as expected!
That certainly adds to the story Gary!! It is fun seeing where the characters take us!!! 😊
That’s one reason I don’t pre-plan stories. I like reading so I tend to just set off and let the story unfold. I feel it makes me an auto-biographer rather than a novelist. Seems to work for me at least 🙂
It seems to me to work very well! 🙂
I think, for me, this is the best way to write. I’ve tried more conventional methods but just didn’t get into them in quite the same way. I guess if it works then no point trying to fix it….so to speak. Thank you so much 😊
Lovely evocative writing, loved the dialogue. Left me wanting more.
Than you Steph, that means a lot coming from you 😊
I love how you categorize the movement of fear from the stomach to the head. I liked the switch in perspective and how you wove the stories together-particularly in such a short peice!
Then you Angela, I find short stories tricky sometimes, which might be why the series developed. I often use them to decide if there’s more in them worth pursuing further. They also act as practice too. This one grew another book which is almost finished and looking likely to insist these are reworked to completion as a proper novel
The language that evokes an age and seperates the voices into their own like here … “Are you referring to the spectral chap that just got murdered on the old road down below, or the barking fox that just legged it toward the river from whence this accursed mist originates?” Yes, these passages bring it alive make the reader see. Great job.
Than you Ellen, the brothers I know very well now and their banter I hope helps give them some relatable realness. I was chuckling when I wrote that line too. It’s so them…and maybe a touch of me in humour terms. I’m so glad I can recycle content on the FB group now too. It helps the motivation to write getting comments like this x
You are welcome.
That was fantastic too. I can see it all clearly in my mind! Would love to read more!
Gosh, you are on a mission today! I hate that a lot of my writing is buried deep in the blog roll too; aiming to correct that soon. Feel free by the way. One of my favourite chapter tests is on here too Dragon Stone. Yet another that needs moving on.
Thank you so much for taking time to go through them 🙂
They are so great, it’s a pleasure! My son isn’t excited so it may have to be explored a little later but the names help me find them! Thank you!!
If your sons anything like my two then when it comes to reading genres I have no idea what they like anymore! It was dead easy back in the day with Dr Seus !! I have a mission next month to re-theme this and make finding my writing much easier. It troubles me that the point of this was to “test” my work and it’s ending up disappearing down the blog roll!
Aww! My son is still in Dr. Seuss land but he can be very picky. Right now the Boos (or the ghosts) won’t let him sleep at night… that’s my fight. My apartment is no haunted but ever since we got this drum set from a friend, he’s been seeing things….
I haven’t decided what my blog is. It was very mommy oriented when my son was born, then very teachery, then kinda religious and now I’m working on fiction. I like to to tell myself I’m eclectic and evolving… yes, that’s it.
Personally I still love Dr Seus, but shh, don’t tell anyone! I don’t envy you with the boos though. That is a phase I wouldn’t want back, even though most of that era was brilliant looking back!
It sounds like your blog is evolving. Growing as you move forwards as you say. Is any of your fiction on it? Actually I must have a hunt around! Am I right in saying ghost stories might be your writing thing as well as reading one? My blog was always intended to be a platform for writing. Just in case a publisher dropped by lol. One reason I need to get this interface sorted. I started with this theme, but now know what I’m looking for and think I’ve found it so next step is to stop procrastinating lol
The Seuss is a man of ages! Everything he wrote about is timeless, I tell you.
I have to do the spooky stuff in bursts. I have some glorious irrational fears linked with the undead, so I have to do it in doses. I am working on writing fiction, and a lot of it’s based on my childhood. Sometimes it does go creepy, but not as often! My fiction is under fiction, fantasy, and facts (I believe, I used to have 20+ categories and I shrank it to 8 and recategorized it. I think I got it all…) I might make a fiction page… that’s a good idea…)
Can’t disagree with that; I love the bit in The Places You Will Go where he describes the slump! Very real and make the story so relevant.
Not sure fear of the undead is irrational mind, I think its perfectly rational! I mean if they were real then I’d not be hanging about pondering if running away was irrational, I’d be on the horizon before pausing for anything !!!!
Will have a look at your fiction once I get on top of my social media. Seems to have gone a bit hectic this week!
Understandable! Thank you for your time!
Hey, I agree with that, others not so much, lol!
Any time at all; this blogging thing is all about engaging and getting to know other bloggers. Never been one to just lob a post out and sit back. Much prefer the 80/20 rule. 80% engagement and 20% on ones own blog. Makes it much more fun 🙂
It is! I’m guilty of not being able to engage as much as I used to (my son rightly had a lot of my time!). I’m glad I am able to do as much as I can now. So thank you 😊 I shall be excited to look!
I hear you there. It’s very easy to get sucked right into social media and lose a life balance. Recently I’ve noticed I’m not finding my writing time properly. A case of keeping up the blog or letting it take a back seat to write. Need to get those priorities back under control! In fact comments recently have given me some very positive feedback so that helps hugely 🙂
Me too, I have let my blog go to the side until recently. the comments and the blogging group has helped me a lot get back on track. Its hard to find a balance but I think we’re getting there!
I’ve been in that group almost from the start and it’s really excellent for making new friends and cross promoting blogs I’d probably never normally see. Which reminds me, I need to check Twitter as I know there are a gazillion notifications waiting!!
You are right though, being active in the group has forced me to engage and develop a load of other social media sites. All things I needed to do to create an author presence. The balance is the hard bit to get right. I feel I’m close to getting it, and yet not entirely there. I think that’s down to schools out and kids home. I’m that toddler who has just had his routine smashed up !!
Awesomeness once again! I love the banter between the brothers, and the tidbit of timing their visit with the correct moon phase was a neat detail! Well done, Gary!
Am I allowed to fess up that I know a few bits about witchy stuff? All in the research…as it were….for books….yes, thats it! I rather liked the moon reference actually, it was quite powerful in my head whilst writing it. Not sure why….also the pub seems to be a convergence point for all my fiction too. I’m beginning to wonder if there’s more to Derrick, the publican, now too 🤔
Really enjoyed it Gary!!!
Thank you Ritu. Different feel to the fiction writing. Not sure which is harder to do !!
They all have their quirks!
That’s good right? Variation in quirk suggests cross genre capability yes? 🤔
Yes indeed it does!!!
If the people in these stories knew all that the brothers have witnessed or stumbled upon, they would stay FAR away from those guys. Exceptional imagery, characterization, suspense, and dialogue (as always), my friend.
Ha ha…I like that one! So they would…a bit like horror movies where you go into a creepy mansion in the dark during a night time storm, then go look in the cellar…why would you?? Mind you, they are atypical ghost hunters, except…thet are actually getting drawn in…this weeks steps it up…oooh, must actually post it !! Thank you so much 💐
Ghost hunting is so cool to me. In literature I just love playing the role of outsider looking in and scream, “Don’t go in there” or “Run, run now!”
Umm…you might like the one Injust out up then…the brothers mention this very thing!! I love the whole mystery of ghosts, supernatural and myths…possibly why I wrote these 👻
I will definitely check it out
No rush…this putting up stories is scary 😱
I totally understand!
That’s no good…I was rather hoping you didn’t understand and were about to go entirely uber productive 😜
In all honesty your stories and comments inspire me to do more writing.
Then I will write more to make sure you keep going!! It can be tough though, finding inspiration…bloggers comments do that for me too. It can still be challenging though. I shall be popping over to yours to keep up to speed and toss in encouragement too 😊
👍🏻 Great atmosphere. I like your writing style.
Thank you for the lovely comment. Much appreciated 😊
There’s good news and bad news, my friend 🙂 The good news is–this is as fantastic as I knew it would be..
The bad news, if you ever get on my bad side, I will have you charged with attempted murder, for you had me holding my breath throughout! haha Seriously, you are the Sultan of Suspense!!!! Wonderfully spooky, intriguing and entertaining!!!! Thanks for sharing…this is a winner 🙂
Hmm…remind me to put a disclaimer up somewhere 😊
The next one is slightly different and based in my cross book watering hole with its publican and a reference to a blue lady that is straight out of my opus magna….I am thinking I need to finish this series now…otherwise the posts will catch up with where it currently is 😱
Thank you again Truky 😊
If you do turn it into a book, I’ll buy it. Well done…again.
Thank you my friend…and it’s definitely something I’m thinking about. Obviously there would be tweaks and expansions on these just to blend it better. Next part due next weekend 😊
Thank you, I think that’s why I value detail…the reader’s mind is a powerful tool and one which the writer can use to their advantage with carefully placed detail and imagery, for example, “skeletal tree silhouetted.”
that sentence, evoked a cold shudder in me…vivid and eloquent.
I think we are on the same page, so to speak, in approaching writing. Less is more sometimes too. I like description and atmosphere, but not overdressing it. I try and mix up sentence sizes too. Short ones for punch punctuated by longer ones that set the short ones up. Doesn’t always work lol. But then that’s where editing comes in I guess…if I turn this series into a book I think there will be quite a few changes 👻
Yes, I must go back and re-read the earlier pieces, can’t imagine editing a whole book…I would probably have a massive crisis of self-confidence and start crying…
Yes, I like to vary sentence structure and length, also punctuation-you are forcing the reader to read at your pace and absorb the idea…
Apparently some people really enjoy drediting…personally I prefer writing. Unfortunately it’s part of the deal though. I went through my current book five times and still had it professionally proofed…. Hopefully that might pursuade an agent I’m serious 😱
The piece called Half a Twin uses sentences and punctuation to drive the flow. But different but was the very first thing I wrote that triggered an idea that lead to several books…all in a slush pile at the moment…one day….one day publishing might just happen 😊
Well, I wish you every success…it’s wonderful having the ideas, it’s just consolidating them into an acceptablr format…
You are most kind 😊 And again quite right, ideas are one thing, but extracting the story from them is the tricky bit! And, er….stopping the urge to procrastinate and actually do it !!!!
Yes…cats to feed…ironing to do…just got to sit down and write! It’s not going to write itself…lol! Hey! Gap in the market for a device that transcribes thought into the written word…
Hey, that’s what I do too lol…mind you, you can dictate nowadays and let software convert it to text….never tried it and might assume it’s a bit like auto-incorrect…although for me that wouldn’t work my mind synchs with typing rate…anything else would upset that applecart !!!!!
Loved this- atmospheric, detailed, chilling!
Thank you for the comment and positivity 😊 But chilling…I never thought of it that way…👻
Yes! Eerie, spine-tingly…or do I just get scared easily?!
At the risk of sounding like I’m patting myself on the back…which is a bit blah…maybe the words are what makes the scare? I’ve read loads of ‘horror’ that’s just had no atmosphere to tweak the imagination…for me it’s what it drags the mind into that causes hairs to rise on the back of the neck and the adrenaline to start asking questions. I try…for better or worse…to write that way 👻
Or…you might scare easily 🙃
I don’t read gory horror (mentioningnonamesShaunHutson) as I find it lacks finesse…I like details,impressions,half-glimpses of some dim remembered horror…which I found your writing evoked. Or..you could be right..lol!
Gore for the sake of it is like comedy based solely on swearing…rubbish…(my opinion). To do it right still needs craft and a lead into the reader’s imagination. I think the scare comes from the reader’s mind being drawn into the writing and experiencing what’s going on. Well that’s what I like to read at any rate 😁 You summed it up rather well 😊