Ghost Walk

Author: G. Jefferies

 

image

 

As promised, here is part three of the story being serialised on my blog. I say story, but it’s really a sequence of short fiction pieces that found themselves being drawn inexorably together. This one moves away from the house to find the paranormal investigators watching…

 


 

For those following, or indeed new, to this particular tale the sequence leading to Ghost Walk, in chronological order, is listed below;

The Room That Swallows People

An Absent Child

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 hugely 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 wraith 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 fog.

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 synchronization; 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. DΓ©jΓ Β vu was his very last thought.

***

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 was to 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, 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; its 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 πŸ‘»

 


 

Β© G Jefferies and Fictionisfood, 2016. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

74 Comments

    • 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 πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    • 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

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The language that evokes an age and seperates the voices into their own like here … β€œAre 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.

    Liked by 2 people

        • 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!

          Liked by 1 person

          • 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.

            Liked by 1 person

            • 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

              Liked by 1 person

              • 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…)

                Liked by 1 person

    • 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 πŸ€”

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Elisabeth Awakens | Fiction is Food

  3. Pingback: The Dead Men of Dunharrow | Fiction is Food

  4. Pingback: The Monks of War | Fiction is Food

  5. Pingback: The Marsh Awakens | Fiction is Food

  6. Pingback: Witchcraft and Conspiracy | Fiction is Food

  7. There’s good news and bad news, my friend πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • 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 😊

      Like

  8. 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.
    Yes- chilling!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s