In Darkness

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
There seems to be something very strange about this night.

Submitted: September 16, 2016

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Submitted: September 16, 2016



In Darkness


You’ve been to the pub for a drink with your mates. No alcoholic binging session though, just a few beers and a bit of a laugh together. Who can afford to go binge drinking these days, with the bar prices as high as they are? Not you – you’ve got way better things to spend your hard-earned cash on.


It’s not far so you will walk home. It starts with the five of you strolling along together, but as you make your way along the road there are less and less of you left. Ten minutes down the road and you’ve said goodbye to three of them. There’s just you and Connor remaining.


“It’s dead quiet tonight,” you remark. “I don’t think even one car has passed us the whole time.”


“Maybe we’ve stepped into a parallel universe,” Connor suggests.


“Yeah. Or the Twilight Zone.” The worrying thing is that you are half serious.


As the seconds tick by and the minutes pass you find yourself becoming increasingly anxious. There has still not been one single, solitary vehicle drive past you on the road. The houses you walk past either have their curtains firmly closed or their lights turned off. And aren’t there an extraordinary number of street lamps out of action?


Neither you nor Connor speak, but just carry on walking along that path. There is a heaviness in the air, an uncanny sort of stillness. You feel almost as though you are walking through black cotton wool. You chide yourself for being ridiculous as you become conscious of the feeling of shivers going down your spine.


When Connor coughs beside you, you jump. The night is so strange and silent that for a moment you had forgotten he was there. Once you get over being startled you are relieved to realise that you are not in fact alone.


Then, in the distance, you hear the unmistakable sound of hoof beats. Not near yet, but very clear in the stillness, and it sounds as though there is more than just the one horse walking slowly along the road. It’s not that unusual to see a horse on the road during the day, but on a night like this.......Whoever it is must be crazy! Any second now a car or truck could come speeding along and plough straight into them.


And still they continue their approach. There is no snorting, no neighing; no other sound apart from that steady clop, clop, clop. Without saying a word to each other, you and Connor both decide to step aside and move further into the shadows, until those horses have passed on by.


And then you see them. They are just coming in to view; two, four, no six black horses. They look massive, huge, and they are harnessed together by what you presume to be black leather. The only clearly visible part of them is the eyes which are coldly impassive, dead looking. Behind them you can just make out the shape of an old-fashioned coach.


If the horses have noticed you they give no sign. The front pair are almost level with you and Connor now but they do not react to your presence. They just carry on slowly and steadily walking, putting one foot in front of the other. All six are walking in perfect time.


You can make out the figure of the coachman now. He is a still figure, all dressed in black. There is something odd though, something off about his appearance. You are going to raise your hand and call out a friendly greeting but Connor reaches out, grabs your arm. He pulls you closer to the wall, further into the shadows.


“Shhhh,” he whispers urgently. “Just pray he does not say your name.”


Connor sounds scared, you realise, like he is genuinely afraid. And then it hits you – the realisation of what it is that makes the coachman appear so odd. There is no head on top of his shoulders!

His head is held firmly under one arm and his eyes are staring directly at you. His mouth, thankfully, stays shut.


“The Dullahan,” breathes Connor.


“You what?” you ask, your voice no more than a whisper. You are too terrified to move.


“The Dullahan,” Connor repeats.


The coach is passing by you now. It is black, its windows are black and you cannot even make out the doors. The wheels turn smoothly and silently.


“He is the soul collector. If you say his name you have to go with him. You have no choice. And there is nowhere you can go to escape as no door can keep him out.” Connor continued, “He must be after more than one soul tonight as he has the coach. When he is after a single soul he rides just one of these horses and will pull his victim up with him.”


“What did you say he was called?” you ask.


“The Dullahan.”


“I’ve never heard of him,” you say. The coach has passed you now, with its creepy driver and those strange dead-eyed horses. The feeling of dread that had been almost overwhelming you is starting to ease. “Sort of like the Grim Reaper?”


“I guess,” Connor replies. “My Gran was always one for the folk tales. There was nothing about Tir Na Nog that she did not know and I spent many hours listening to her stories when I was small. Maybe there’s more to them than I thought.”


“Are you okay, Connor? Are you sure the shock hasn’t been too much for you to handle?” Five minutes ago you would have believed every word without question but already your scepticism is creeping back. “And what or where is Tir Na Nog?”


“Tir Na Nog, the Land of Eternal Youth. You know......where the faeries dwell.” Even Connor, you notice, is starting to look sheepish now.


In the distance you can hear the sound of an engine, then another. Whatever had been happening, wherever you had been, you are back on your own street now, just walking home from the pub.


As you turn to walk up your pathway you pause, turn back to look at Connor. “Did any of that really happen, mate?” you ask.


Connor looks up the road where that carriage had gone. He looks at the approaching car headlights. Then he looks at you, shrugs his shoulders. “Who knows....” he says.


And when you wake up the following morning, snug and warm under your quilt, you will indeed wonder if the whole thing had just been a dream.



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