Archive for September, 2012

Battlefield

Posted in Stories and reviews, Stories and reviews by Kathy Da Silva with tags , , on September 6, 2012 by kathydasilva

Battlefield new copy(kathy)unadulterated

Battlefield

 

Rain fell unabated, that eternal night. The earth became sodden, a slurry of mud, and mulch, a quicksand of watery, tumbling material, that loosed itself, at all, remaining, life. Turning it in its wake into the same detritus, that became entangled, and twisted. Hideous. Cattle lay rotting in the fields. Stumps, stalks, bones. A quagmire, a bog. In the ditch lay a thousand souls. The dogs lived. The hounds came in their number, to lick the rotting flesh. A dragons field. A sewage of remains. A green bile smelling mess. A long, snaking stream of putrid faecal remains. A cold, grey fog, hung over the scene. The remaining buildings, sank too. Roofs hung awkwardly, as if no longer made of solid slate or baked tile. The skyline of cities, became indistinguishable from the massive jungle scene of the Amazon, or Congo. The flickering fluorescent tubes of shop windows, lay at angles. Telegraph poles and communication lines had been torn from their concrete bases.. Tower Bridge along the River Thames, had simply crumbled, it’s huge steel arms, that drew up the centre bridge, became twisted and broken, like a disarmed toy.

                In England, the remains of each town from the north to the extremities of the southern regions, both in the west, and east, ressembled little more than ancient ruins.  The bricks to many buildings having softened at the edges. Here and there buildings, houses remained intact and in the small shelter of these survivors, huddled together, waiting for rescue.

     The beasts that had wrought this destruction, had remained invisible and mobile, the sight of them, leaving most men to believe their sanity was to be questioned. They stood a building in height, and their skin was of changeable colouration, between blood red and burnt wood, but the smell of ferrous iron, mixed with the heat of a furnace, issued from their mouths.

Their breath was a fireball of molten fury, of such intense heat, that bricks and metal  became liquefied on impact. Their faces resembled gnarled wood, each nostril, round and large, and dark, tunnel-like in length. Each beast wore a crown of gold, that gleamed and shone, when they moved and wrought their terror on the earth. They had other senses, a kind of super sense, to know the minds of man. Their flesh sparkled, and the light danced upon the scale or tile-like shapes that made up their body mass.  Each tile, looked like an eye. The eyes observed and recorded in detail, any ground movement, particularly taking account of the numbers left of human life. It was like a judgement, but there was no knowledge of the final end, and there was no telling when, the beasts would leave, or whether they could be destroyed.

       All that could be observed before the battle had begun, were large, cloud-like masses, like a huge swarm of insects, a shadow, a billowing of smoke, and then the strength of one single breath, had brought down structures, like blowing out a candle. The movement of a single beast alone, could flatten, a whole township, in a matter of minutes. They lay waiting, and observing.

       The beasts came very suddenly upon the earth. Parts of the northern hemisphere had had the worst weather for many winters. So much rain had fallen, that farmers, were busy rescuing sheep and cattle, bringing in their livestock and counting themselves lucky to not have suffered worse, losses. City dwellers, had suffered severe depressions, associated with the change of season, and lack of sunlight hours. Suicide, numbers had been on the increase. The attack took place without warning, and the flash of light that issued from the mouths of the beasts, who were in such number, reached the surface of the planet like huge bolts of lightning. In turn their descent to the ground, was swift and destructive, turning soil into gullies, a hundred feet deep,  demolishing townships, and stripping the land of communication links. The outlying coastal regions, had virtually become semi-submerged under water. The ground drenched. Huge lakes had emerged, and some of the uplands, had become isolated like islands. Steel rails from a now destroyed railway service, still joined some of these outlands. And although precarious, some of the engines were able to  traverse the watery, dank ponds that had consumed most of the south-east of England.

 

 Part Two

Twenty-four Hours Earlier

Sussex Countryside

        Tessa had been crossing the downs, to reach her farmhouse, at midnight. The moon was up, but hiding between travelling bunches of cloud cover. So that the blackness of the night seemed imposing and almost eerie. But, this was not something that unsettled her. She was well use to the land, and well acquainted with the path that she took to reach home. She had been singing, Gaelic folk songs. The air was fresh on the skin. She trood with some speed, gathering seeds and torn grass on her wetted, laced,  leather boots. Tessa had been thinking of Fergus, her boyfriend, in whose company she had spent the best of four hours, that evening. She had passed the tree where an owl had made a its nest. Though it remained hidden, or, out hunting for its food, she had looked  and searched the branches, all the same. Wondered at the nature of smaller creatures, seeing a worm or caterpillar dangling precariously from a thread. The oak tree, was several hundred years old. Grey light danced upon its structure, wrapping it in a silken glow. Its bark was moist and solid. She stood for a while with her hand placed upon it. Her fingers were slender and red from the cold night.

         The glistening roofs of Romany caravans, grouped together to the side of a copse, could be seen  from the vantage point of the hillside. Tessa could smell the cooking of stews, and smoke of burning  campfires, and hear laughter, and partying. There was a huge desire to trip down the hill, toward the revellers, but, she was expected home. Gathering speed she trekked hurriedly, the   length of the last field, wishing soon to be in the warmth of her house, and ready for sleep. What happened next, made time almost appear to  cease. A blackness came over the land, and it was like a giant hand obliterating the view. Suddenly the stars were no longer visible, nor the shadows cast by the moonlight. So pitch black, was the way ahead, that she became disorientated, the air appeared suddenly heavy, and then she lost consciousness.

 

Richmond

Ted, had secured his barge,  drinking down a double whisky, and pulling at the peek of his captain’s hat.  He went inside his cabin, unwrapping his waterproof coat, and hanging it on its hook behind the door.

‘Another whisky, then, I’d betta’ cook us some grub? Will that suit you Shelly?’ His dog whined, tongue dragging to one side at the thought of food.

‘Foul weather tonight, wonder how George is managing under the bridge? He’ll ne’er get any kip, the rain’s pelting down, can’t imagin’ how he’s lasted through to now. Perhaps we ought to offer something of sustenance to his higher majesty!’ The dog was looking longingly at a thick steak that was dangling from the fork in Ted’s hand. The pan had begun to sizzle and the smell of meat cooking sent the dog into a delirium, of salivating ecstasy.

George was a local, who had fallen on hard times. He was use to scavenging, and had set up a temporary home under the wide arches of the bridge. Ted took a kindly approach to all travellers. In an old billycan from a century ago, Ted poured a soup of steak and stew, including dumplings ready for his friend along the way. He had learned to cook for himself, since his wife had died, of cancer some years past. He carefully chucked a scrap of meat toward the dog, and headed for the door, wrapping up once more against the weather. George was not at his usual location, and the journey was wasted.

‘ Ah, the brigand, what will we ‘ave of you?’ Ted smarted, having thought in a generous way, how it would have cheered the fellow. The dog had helped himself to some of his master’s left-overs. A greasy, slimy, trail of cooking fat, a wet snail’s trail, ended under the nose of  the rather scraggy looking mongrel, that had become Ted’s companion of the waterways, Shelly. Ted turned the light out, throwing himself onto the roughly made bunk. There was still some light from the streets, adjacent to the quay. Ted after mumbling a few more words, to himself, turned over dragging a blanket over his shoulder. He began to fall asleep. Deep, beneath the river bed, slow rumbling sounds started to rise, setting up a small but, significant tremor. The boat began to rock,  as if an incoming tide were due. But, the barge was not at a seaside location.  Ted stirred momentarily. The boat, rocked in larger motion, as if a wave of some force had lapped at its side. There was a swelling motion, and the boat rose, and fell rapidly. Plates on the table began to slide, and a cup, rolled off the end of the ledge. The cracking sound of the china woke Ted.

‘Ah! By Jones, the dues’ us! The moorings must have broke loose!’ The dog howled, and whined. The boat swung violently to one side as if turning on a wave.

‘ We’re not at sea are we?! What the blazes is goin’ on?’ Ted checked the landscape outside his window, but the rain was falling heavily, everything seemed blurred, awash with the rain.

‘Well, if I ‘d have guessed the ol’ Thames could turn this rough. No!’ The boat nearly turned over. The dog and human inside, had been hurled face down onto the floor. There seemed to be a rapid, movement in an easterly direction. The boat shunted, dragged, its keel, turned, and bumped, and bumped again. Ted had been hit by flying objects of all manner, from plates, and cutlery, to the dog bowl, and the empty bottle of whisky. The last object had left an indent on his forehead, and blood began to trickle and spill, down his cheek. The dog looked injured, the whole barge, had turned on its side.

‘Fuckin’ hell! What the dues’ us did tha’!’  Ted, emerged out of an opening he found in the side cabin, the barge had been ripped open, by some dreadful force. The dog whimpered. Ted did his best to lift him to a safe ledge. The rain was still coming down, and there seemed to be no help at hand. He assumed the river Thames had burst it’s banks and that the barge had been carried, some yards away from the quayside. In the distance, there appeared a huge fireball of light. The city though he could not be sure seemed alive with a glow that he could not describe. He stared in amazement, and horror. Something very dark and large, glided over the sky, and vanished.

Scotland

 

‘For she loved me still, and I was her love, true to the heart, and never to falter…And she was my love forever…huhh, huhh, huhh. For she loved me still, and I was her…oh, my Jesus! What the fuck, the hell, what the fuckin’… the wheels skidded the car to a halt. Everything seemed in motion, like a gigantic wave of moving earth. The lights for the road still shone, the Scottish side of the border, the lights from the border and south, had been ripped from their posts, and the road, had vanished. The battery on Mack’s phone had all but died, and yet he swore he had recharged them the night before. Mack was on his way south to London, on an important assignment. His agent had called him, and he was due to read for a major film, involving an all star cast, or so he was told.

‘What the fuck?…’ He got out of his vehicle, and stared, at the massive destruction, ahead.

‘Well, Jesus Jones! Jesus Jones! He got back in the car, and headed back to the nearest town. Drawing into a garage, to use a pay phone, he rang his agent, and begged him to make his excuses, and then rang the airport, to see if he could book a flight.

‘If I can’t be down there by this evening latest, I’ll be there, tomorrow, as early as they like! There’s been some sort of landslide, the whole countryside’s been torn up.’ His agent was in grand sympathy, but had not been able to make contact with his London counter-part. He promised to relay the information as soon as the telephone lines were running again.  Even the lines from his office in Glasgow, had been affected.  Mack, had taken the bother to drive to the airport, but found himself behind massive queues, of traffic. Once there, all flights south had been cancelled.

‘Until further notice! Yes, and I bet they are’nt in a hurry!’ He contemplated everything for a whole hour.

‘I  could try the other route, but it’s going to add half a day’s drive! Ah, I’ll have to try.’ Mack had failed to watch the television screens giving out severe weather warnings. He had failed to pick up on the lunchtime news, particularly about railway lines being effected by some huge crash scene.

‘Jesus, I’ve got to have a go, the part is mine if I make it down there.’ He drove half way across the country, and tried again, at the Tay of Forth. 

By the time he had arrived at the Tay of Forth, there again were huge queues of cars, trying to cross the water. The engines of vehicles were steaming, and there seemed to be at least a three hour wait ahead. He had never known the roads to be this busy. It was eleven oclock in the evening, before the lane of traffic he was trapped in, started to move slowly forward, and the car, trailed onto the bridge structure, and eventually, the release the other side, gave him a very high degree of satisfaction. He began to speed off onto the motorway, and began his descent to the southern parts of England. At about midnight, he decided to have a sleep, and brought the car to a halt in a lay-by.  The skies had seemed full of storm clouds, and the air moist,  but heavy. The sort of weather, to bring on a migraine. And he had suffered plenty of those. He reclined his seat and pulled his coat over his shoulders, intending to kip for an hour or so, ready for an early start. Mack woke at dawn, at the first light, to bird song. He had expected to see, a garage adjacent to the lay-by and searched in his head for an explanation as to why it may have been moved. The more he awoke, the more the countryside around, appeared, to be undergoing a change of sorts. He kept staring across a field. It was an extraordinary sight, of cattle, all culled. Their bodies, laying as if slaughtered, at the site. There were flies already buzzing in the air, and the most strange atmosphere of isolation. He stepped out of his car. And a very slow, but real fear began to rise through his body. He looked back along the road on which he had travelled, but the tarmac had moved. It was the first time, Mack had encountered, what he thought to be earth movements, or the results of an earth tremor. There seemed to be no other traffic at all present. He tried his mobile phone, but could not connect to his agent. He thought thankfully of the petrol tank at least being full, and the possibility of finding a local person to help him with moving to a roadway that might get him at least back to Scotland. He stood outside his car, and viewed the surrounding fields. A great deal of rain had fallen, and the soil was moist and boggy. Whichever way a person turned, they would be confronted with rotting carcasses. Taking the car across the land would have been impossible, and he decided to walk up to the top of a hill. There would have been farmhouses, he thought, there would have been, shops, and a small village. ‘Where in the fuck am I ?’ The words, kept tripping out of his mouth. The hilltop view, revealed little else than a one up one down, old detached house. So Mack made for the building, and at some speed, threw the gate open. The wild flowers in the front garden should have told him something of the owner. The wrapping on the door brought no response. Sunshine, shone through the windows, creating a hazy, smoky, atmosphere, almost like late summer, the end of a season. The cottage was not locked. Mack was desperate to find a working telephone. The door opened easily, with only a slight, small creaking sound. ‘Some oil on tha’ wouldn’t hurt’ Mack thought aloud. ‘Anyone home?’ No reply. ‘Anyone, here?’ He kept moving about, hoping his voice would be heard, but nothing. He looked around the living room, poked his head around the door of the kitchen, looked out toward the back garden, to see if someone was in the garden. There was a shed, standing on its own, at the end of a lawn, but no activity. The curtains had been drawn open, and the place did look lived in. So he sat down for a minute. The house smelt good, like a home that has been used for some time. It reminded him of an old aunt’s house, that he had visited as a young boy. So the lady of the house must have liked cooking, and cared for her home. The wood furniture looked polished with wax, and the carpets were swept. A vase of dried flowers lavender and alyssum , was placed on the living room table, on a mat of lace. Mack grew tired of the wait, and rose to do some more exploration of the premises. The upstairs, was smaller. It consisted of a small bathroom, and a single bedroom. The space was crammed, cosy and old fashioned. Floral wallpaper, thick lined curtains, and a bedside table, next to an old oak bedstead. Someone’s reading glasses, and an open book. A small china lamp and, equally old fashioned taste in shade, the sort with tassels, and roses, and an outline of leaves. Tea. Half drunk. And a floating leaf or two. ‘Needs a strainer’. He was becoming desperate to keep himself from losing it all together. ‘Well perhaps she’s been called out for something??’ He hurried back down the stairs, becoming aware of his intrusion, the owner of the cottage surely couldn’t be too far away. He felt drawn to the garden. ‘Just a look at the shed, and that will be that, if there’s no reply, I’ll have no choice but  to go further. The shed, looked a little disused, and could have done with a coat of paint, but there was this over-riding feeling of a presence of sorts, not sure. The door opened up easily enough, and there was no electric. ‘Hah, ha, ha!’, a shriek from the corner of the dark interior, revealed a rather frail looking lady with white hair, and who seemed completely crouched, down, terrified. ‘I ‘m so, so sorry, Mack stammered, ‘I only meant to find the owner of the cottage, and could you help?’ The woman, looked up, wordless, and empty. He continued, ‘I, I , I was on my way down to London, and something dreadful is happening round here, do you have a phone, I’ve been looking for some means to call, for help.’ The woman did not move. She continued to whimper, and to cover her face, with her hands, sobbing. He decided to try to lift her and carry her back to the cottage, and the woman, let him. She was short and light in weight, and not more he thought than, six or so stone. Back in the cottage, he found a blanket to wrap around her shoulders, and settled her on her bed, and went down into the kitchen in an effort to make tea, and bring her something to eat. ‘Whatever, could have happened last night! There must be some sense to the land moving, someone should know about it, the emergency services, surely!’ He kept talking to himself. A tray of tea was made and carried to the bedroom. ‘You must have some tea, and tell me what happened here?’ But, the lady, just trembled still even holding her cup, and tears streamed down her face, as if someone very dear to her had been lost. Mack was guessing and trying to fill in the unspoken details. The lady began to mumble, and with some effort, and a very broken sentence, the events of the previous night began to unfold. ‘I’d just locked up for the night, it was late, oh, ugh, I can’t imagine, well, the chickens, the geese, the farmer, must be so upset. The night seemed oddly cold, and lonely, the fields, as pitch black, as the bottom of a dank pond. Is Sisley, alright, have you seen Sisley, he’s usually around. Mack, had not, but didn’t let on, and said he would look for the cat on his return to the kitchen. ‘Sisley!’ The old woman was deep in a sorrowful thought. ‘I’ve never been so afraid. The light from this being, that descended, it can’t have been mechanical, but it did seem to be glowing. Well, it’s difficult. You get to my age and you think you’ve seen most things in life. But, nothing like it, before, nothing comes close to being eye to eye with  this creature. ….’ The lady trailed off, and lost consciousness for a second or two, and drifted back, coming to with a start. Mack, thought she must be exhausted, and was reluctant to press her further, there was the possibility that she had been dreaming, or walking in her sleep. But, what  made her cower at the bottom of the garden, until the morning. ‘It’s a wonder she didn’t catch her death!’ He said this softly, but the woman, had dozed again. ‘Got to find a phone, got to find a way of contacting my agent.’ He eventually found the location of the phone, sage green in colour, and sat on top of a local directory. The receiver was lifted. He had expected to hear the usual burring sound of a live line, but instead, alas, the line must have been down due to the storm or whatever, it was. Mack was confused, bewildered, and at best trying to stay calm. He returned to the bedside of Mary, Theresa Grey. A catholic by upbringing. Mack had seen an old wooden, crucifix, with the figure of the suffering Christ, on the kitchen wall, and two large statues, one of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the other of the Virgin Mary, on the mantelpiece in the living room.. Yesterday’s post lay on a side table, revealing the cottage owner’s name. ‘Mary, will you eat some breakfast if I make it?’ , the old dear stared, and smiled, ‘Well, if you don’t mind making the breakfast. It should be me, you see, it would normally be me, but I can’t tell you what happened!’ She broke off again, and Mack left her to rest. What had happened, was something too wild to imagine, too unbelievable, enough to change a person’s sense of security, or sanity. As far as could be understood, the old woman, had witnessed some other unworldly being. Something larger than a single storey house, had travelled across the sky, suddenly ablaze with fire, and then it vanished, leaving behind a trail of destruction , dead animals, burnt soil. ‘You must think I’m mad!’ Mary had said, looking up at him, elegant and complete inspite of her ordeal. ‘No, not at all’ Mack had replied, though the evidence of the creatures, themselves, was scarce, and he had thought she must have hallucinated, something, that the distruction was no more than a freak of nature, no less than an earthquake or flood. He had no wish to pursue thoughts further than that. Sisley had failed to show up, and so Mack had merely put off the inevitable, and had told the old dear that he had seen the feline out in the garden chasing birds.                                             

Sussex Eight  Hours Later

               Tessa woke up, to  dawn skies, and rain drenched clothing. She was still wearing a coat. She was extremely cold.  The farm house, looked as though it were hit by a bomb, and there appeared no gate post, and no remaining drive. She ran all the same toward the house. Her family, would have all been killed, if they had been inside. Her hope was to find that they had been out for the evening before the event of the bomb or blaze. Nothing inside the remaining walls gave any sign of life, or evidence of human forms. The whole area around the building also seemed to be just piles of burnt, rubble. She started to walk down the road, shattered, and desperate to find company. Her legs and hands had bled and her face was covered with the dirt of the track. She was badly burned on all exposed parts of her body. She was an extraordinary sight, walking, as if half asleep. She went for about a mile, before realising, that neighbours, dwellings had been clearly demolished. Across the fields, the smoke from the Romany campfires still smouldered. She took off, across to the woods, through an orchard. The gypsies, were not by the fire, but had retired to their caravans. The storm, had not affected them, they were, all fast asleep. Tessa rapped on the first door, and roused, the owner and his wife. 

‘Have you seen my family, have you seen what’s happened!’ She cried frantically, trying to explain, why she had come to them for help.

‘Oh, my lord, oh my lord, whatever has happened to you’se?’

‘Last night, I, was, I was coming home across Farley field, and,’ she broke off shaking,’ the clouds, kept crossing the moon, it didn’t bother me, I’m not afraid of the dark,’ she paused again to catch her breath,’ the clouds, kept crossing the moon, and I passed out, something smothered me, something choked me, I passed out!’

‘Come inside, you look drenched to the skin.’ The old mother stared at the girl, looking down at her legs, and up at her face, she thought the girl might collapse at any moment. ‘Whatever you saw, we had no disturbances, nothing, lets get you dry, and we’ll drive you into the town, hey.’

‘Can’t see anyone, at home, can’t see anyone alive!’ Her voice began to falter, and she leaned on the woman’s, arm, steadying herself as she climbed inside the caravan.  The old woman helped her take her coat off and wrapped her shoulders with a blanket.

‘We’ll get you dry first, and perhaps you’d like a hot drink.’

‘I can’t, imagine, I just can’t imagine, what’s going on, my whole family, are missing, my neighbours are missing, there’s no one, as far as I can see, from the village left.’ The old man, smiled, and handed the girl a mug, They had not been approached locally by anyone before now, and the girl needed their help. ‘We’ve only been here for the last week, we’re not that familiar with the way things are round here,’ he looked out of the caravan window toward where the old farmhouse had stood. The sun was just beginning to rise, and send a warm, rose glow across an otherwise wintry landscape. ‘There’s not a war, goin’  on? An’ the lightning that comes with a storm, can never be that strong. Did they have a gas cylinder inside the house, could it have been an explosion?’ Tessa looked up. ‘Well, well if it was just a cylinder, why are all the other houses down too?’He looked bewildered, and curious all in the same moment,  ‘ That  my girl I  can’t say nowt’ about, but there surely is some cause.’ He stepped outside, and began to walk toward the area where houses had once stood. The soil seemed dry and like chalk, or ash, and there seemed to be cinder, and smoke, amongst the ruins, and hopelessly, just here and there, there was a small sign of human remains, a finger, burned black, and a part of a limb, the clothing still attached. Fortunately, he thought the girl had been spared from seeing this. He hastened his step. The old farmhouse had stood in its grounds for more than a century, and the semi-circular garden wall, had been smashed, and made molten, or so it seemed. It was hard to believe buildings had been erect, the day before. Where there were some standing structures, Joe, went toward them, and peered, and picking up a stick, he poked at the objects, the clothing of someone lay strewn, and in the dark shadows, of an old outhouse,  the torn remains of an arm, with some of the flesh still attached, a wool checkered coat sleeve, still encompassing the  limb. Some of the barns where the horses had been kept, seemed untouched in part. He went to look, at the remains, and discovered cowered in a corner, a black and white shepherd dog, with his collar still on. ‘Sheppey.’ The old man uttered to himself, and then took hold of him, carrying him from amongst the rubble. ‘Well, at least you’ll be a comfort to the girl’.

Tessa had gone to sleep, when the old man returned. The dog lapped some milk, and whimpered, then settled beside the bed, folding his paws, and lowering his snout, softly.

‘Well, Maggie, I think we ought to move on from here, and soon, it doesn’t make much sense to me, but there’s nout’ that’s alive, on that farm save this mongrel, of a shepherd dog, and the birds of the air, it could be something is happening in the atmosphere, it could be something like a war, but, nothing remains of the neighbours or the farm owner, and we ought to move on, see what, is being said in the next town.’ The woman looked up, ‘The girl’s exhausted, and she’s had no sleep.’ ‘Well, if she’s up in an hour, we’ll have to start to pack up camp, with the others. This dog is all that remains, and there’s no way that she’ll want to stay on her own, not with the mess of things, I’ve just seen. Nothing explains it! There’s bits of body everywhere, I’d sooner she didn’t have to see it.’ ‘Joe are you saying you don’t know what could have caused it?’ ‘ You could see for yourself, only I’d rather spare you, and it makes no sense.’

                 An hour went by, and Tessa woke. The light outside was grey-white. The couple who had helped her to dress her wounds, and dry her clothes, were talking to each other outside. Her whole body was sore. Tears fell down her face, and she kept repeating in her head the walk from the hills down to the old farmhouse. She thought of Fergus. Had he survived? That she must find someone that she knew.

‘Would you like something to drink?’ Joe asked. They had noticed her stirring from the bed, and thought that the sooner they were on the move the better.

‘No, I’ve got to do something, I have a friend who lives in the next village, over the other side of  Farley Fields, I’ve got to see if he’s ok, alive, and then he could help me, all of us! They have a big house, and there would be food, I’ m sure of it!’

‘We’re not the sort of folk to worry people like yourselves, but if you want we  could take you there.’

Tessa was streaming with tears. Joe packed up his caravan and attached it to the car. Tessa and Maggie rode in the back of the vehicle, talking. At the junction of the road, that turned toward Little Hatton,  the car stalled, and Joe began to turn the engine, to restart it.

‘It’s such a bother, we’re low on petrol too! ‘ They could see that the landscape looked turned, and spoiled in some way. The village, which should have had a local pub and green at it’s centre, was no longer visible. 

Tessa got out of the car and started to run. Part of the old mill was still there, and the road, that led to the mansion. Fergus, would have been at college, had it been an ordinary day, would he be there. She could hear her feet thud along the muddied track, the wind was high at the top of the hill, and she sensed with some excitement that maybe she would find him out by the barn. The farmhouse looked burned down. The rooms of the upper floor had collapsed inside the fragile outer walls. She took time to think that she had happily been in Furgus’s room, the night before. All she could see was a tumbling mess, and no one present. The barn was still standing, and the horses, were alive. At some distance she could see at the bottom of the field a figure sitting on the ground, with his back toward the barn and house.

‘Furgus! Furgus it’s me!’ Tessa yelled, but the figure only turned slightly as if her voice carried weakly on the breeze, and as if he did not want to be bothered to find out who had called. Tessa decided to take one of the horses and dress it with a saddle and reigns, descending to where she could see him. Furgus had been burned too. His arms and hands looked blackened. His face though drained of feeling, showed he had been sobbing. She dismounted. Furgus had witnessed the encounter with the creatures, and the fire power, that had virtually destroyed the farmhouse, including his family. He had not remained inside after Tessa had left the night before but, had taken a walk toward the woods, partly following his girlfriend as she had started her journey home. When a darkness had fallen, a thick cloud of darkness, he had become aware of the lightning strike of fire on the main building and had run back across the field, to do what he could, to help his family. Knowing the scale of the fire, he had allowed himself to be beaten back by the flames, and had cursed himself for his lack of courage. Tessa, had suffered too, but had become aware of the fact that they both were alive. She sat for a  while silently beside him. Furgus had turned in mild acknowledgement of his companion, but had remained sullen, and pensive.

                 

 

 

 Richmond

 

Ted had made his way slowly with a limping Shelly, to the nearest roadside, hoping to cadge a lift towards the centre of London town. The glow from the distance had appeared like a massive fire.  He had survived, a surge of water that had mounted the barge,  over the side of a dock, and made it travel some yards, towards  parkland. The barge could not be moved, and was turned on it’s side, like a beached whale It would be of no good use until repairs were made. He thought he might find a place to sleep temporarily in a shelter, in town. The rain, had not stopped tipping down in a sheet like strength, and his clothes, and dog, were like dripping sponges, by  the time they arrived at the shelter in Dewbury Street. There was a small but dry area in the back corridor where Shelly was allowed to sleep, and the room only accommodation was barren of comfort save a plainly made bed of one wool blanket and laundered sheets. The hostel provided a clean towel, and Ted, had had to beg the use of a razor. He had been handed a cheap disposable item, and a plain flannel. The owner had a stock of basic goods for travelling types of people, only it was usually backpackers, who frequented the place. The TV room seemed empty, and the light from the lamp kept flickering, as if the power source of electric, had been interrupted. The television, either was broken or the aerial on the roof must have been torn away by the gale-like weather. But, all that appeared on the screen was the strobe-like effect of black and white horizontal lines, that  occasionally zigzagged, and then followed a pattern of repeated rotations of thick black lines, and greyish-white blocks of fuzz. He decided to sleep. His sleep was interrupted by dreaming. First there was the feeling of being drawn toward and engulfed in  a perfect light, a soft white glow which  permeated the air, like walking down a lane at night where everything glistens because of rain. The hazy light of a lamp, was the first thought, a street lamp or  an old fashioned gas lamp. The image of what had made this light appear was so obscured to his sight that he kept pulling his hands up infront of  his face at first. In his imagination there was a vision of many pairs of eyes all seemingly engulfed in the effervescence of the light permeating around the space in which he stood. There was a sense of having known their presence before, he had a sense of wellbeing and inner knowledge. These creatures knew him, and it was as if they were making him feel safe and protected. There was  a room, and a screen, and the scene from what appeared to be a   window, the aerial view of a field. A dark scene of carnage, and of bodies, and animals strewn, dying or dead, the night air thick and black, and the sense of desolation, futility. No one in this scene had life enough to struggle, to escape. The dark air had taken their strength, it had changed their will power, and had coughed them up like sputum. Ted was shown, how the dark blackness had been a force of great strength. How many people had been literally physically drawn into it’s engulfing shapeless folds, how the human will was not sufficient, in spite of a strong level of intellect, had been weak and paltry in it’s attempt at withdrawing and standing it’s ground, in the majority of people. In the screen, Ted saw a man, tear at a woman’s hair, in the heat of an argument, throwing her to the floor, in a show of physical strength. At the same time, and almost simultaneously, there were two figures, shadow-like, like the thickness of a silken stocking, or as thin as a trail of smoke, black in colouration sifting and influencing  the thoughts as they rose in the man.  The scene changed, the  vision faded, and the next scene showed a field during daylight hours of place in a country location. The dreaming went on all night. Ted had started a diary notebook, some years earlier, just to keep account of his life on the boat. He started to take down an account of what he remembered from the night before. Everything was a clear as ice water in his head, he had woken  very early to an earie sound of silence around him .

                                    

 

The Home of Mary Theresa Grey

Macke had decided to wait on the issue of finding help, until his newly found friend had recovered some composure, and until, so he thought that maybe other neighbours might surface. He was going to ask Mary who she thought might have a vehicle or telephone in the neighbourhood. The house or cottage was  a place of safety and he felt even if it took another twenty-four hours, it would be worth staying put, just to rest and assess the situation, it was not every day that an earth tremor occurred, and surely some sort of emergency effort would be put into play. There was a true sense of peace within the walls of the cottage. The essence of the good nature of the owner, coupled with a sense of settled living, gave the whole building a sense of home, something he had had to live without, since the beginning of his career as an actor, with work being intermittent, and only ever affording a single room for board and lodging in.