A Highland ghost story.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Donald Mcallistar a farmer in the highlands of Scotland has a visit from a dead ancestor.

Submitted: August 08, 2017

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Submitted: August 08, 2017

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A Highland ghost story

 

It was a crisp winters’ night, a white layer of snow covered the highland landscape, dusted with hoar frost that twinkled in the moonlight. The old stone farmhouse stood isolated amongst the rolling hills of the glen. A moss covered dry stone wall ran around the farmhouse, a three inch thick layer of snow stood atop the wall.

A warm inviting orange glow flickered through the window as a gray plume of smoke floated from the round clay chimney pot.

Donald Mcallister sat dozing in a large cracked brown leather armchair. His feet were warm and toasty in a snug thick pair of woolen socks as they faced the crackling coal fire. Next to the chair was an old scratched table, its varnish had flaked off years ago leaving a dull stained wooden finish to its once highly polished surface. Standing on the table was a half empty bottle of single malt whiskey.

 Lying next to the bottle was a crumpled up letter from the bank.

Donald had read the letter over and over again that evening as his drinking had become more intense, until the words on the page had become blurred and began to waver as his drink induced eyesight finally gave out on him.

No one could have predicted what devastating effects the BSE virus would have had on the local farming community. Donald Mcallister was no exception to the outbreak. His cattle had been slaughtered in their hundreds, his lively hood killed with them.

Donald had had to lay off his farm workers and remortgage the farm, which had been in his family for generations. But as the red type on the letter had stated, Donald had fallen behind with his re-payments and the bank was foreclosing, they were taking his farm, his home away from him.

Donald Mcallister was in his late fifties, with a strong physique, years of hard toil on his farm had built him into a strong broad shouldered man, yet his bright green eyes were now sunken into his head with dark rings of worry circling them. A Highlander born and bred, Donald had been born on the farm; it had been in his family for generations, passed from father to son.

The farm was the only life Donald knew, he lived and breathed the rural country life, he loved the glen and its surrounding scenery, especially in the summertime when he loved to stroll across the rolling hills covered in musky scented heather, and if he was lucky, he might spy a local deer or mighty antlered stag through the trees.

Donald would usually walk to his favourite spot; a small babbling brook not far from the farm, where he would sit by the stump of a tree and steep his feet in its cool fresh water.

 Overlooking the brook perched on a hillock half a mile away on the shores of the loch stood the ruins of a stone fort, built in the fifteenth century by the highland lairds of the glen. The fort was destroyed by fire in 1710, which took the life of its laird, Connacht Mcallister, a distant relative of Donald’s

 

Taking in a sharp grunting breath, Donald awoke with a start at the loud thunderous crack, which sounded like a car backfiring outside. Sitting up in his chair, Donald looked toward the heavy wooden door as he heard crunching footsteps approaching. Donald’s heart raced in his chest as an urgent banging shook the front door.

‘Open up, open up in there, quickly!’ shouted a man’s voice in a broad highland accent.

‘Who…who is it?’ what do you want?’ Donald replied, trying not to sound too nervous.

‘Quickly, man, open up before they spot me. Tarry thee not!’ came the irritated reply.

‘What do you want?’ replied Donald standing behind the door and trying to look through the frosted peephole to get a look at the stranger at his door.

‘It is Jamie Mcallister, man, for the love of god open the door!’ said the voice urgently.

‘Jamie!’ Donald mouthed, thinking of his cousin who lived in the next glen. ‘What on earth are you doing her this time of night?’ Donald said relaxing as he unbolted the door and swung it open.

A gust of chill winter air rushed passed Donald sending a shiver down his spine as he stood in the open doorway. Looking puzzled, Donald shivered for there was no one outside in the cold dark, not even a set of footprints in the snow leading up to the door.

‘Jamie?’ Donald called out into the cold night.

‘Close the door, man it’s freezing out there!’ A voice came from behind him.

Spinning around, Donald looked in openmouthed shock at the figure warming itself in front of his fire.

A lad, no older than twenty years stood warming his hands. His hair was dark and tied back in a small ponytail with a black silk ribbon, his long pale grey skinned face was smeared, in what looked like soot and streaked with rivulets of sweat. A rough ragged edged brown cloak was wrapped around his shoulders, a handsome silver brooch with an amber stone set in its center held the cloak in place.

Donald recognized the Mcallister tartan on his kilt, the proud scarlet with threads of cornflour blue, charcoal, white and emerald green making up the checked pattern was washed out and faded. As the lad turned to face him, Donald’s heart jumped as he took a step back. Tucked into the top of his kilt was an antique flintlock pistol, and hanging from his hip was a claymore sword with an ornate wire hand-guard.

The lad’s white cotton shirt was torn and spattered with what looked like blood splashes across the chest.

 Shaking with fear, Donald swallowed hard, ‘I..,. I have No money if that is what you are after!’

‘Whisht with you, Uncle I have no need of money,’ scoffed the youth, ‘what I do need is a place to warm myself and hide until the Redcoats give up their search. Come first light and I am off before they find me and hang me, the bastards!’

‘Redcoats? What nonsense is this, Who are you? Is this some kind of a joke?’ Donald shouted in bewilderment.

‘Och, man, dinni ye ken what I’m saying?’ said the lad as his emerald eyes scanned the cottage, settling his gaze on the malt whiskey he smiled. ‘Too much whiskey me thinks, uncle, it has addled thy brain.’

Moving over to the table, Jamie reached out for the bottle his hand passed through it like mist, yet he held  a spectral bottle in his ghostly hand. Lifting the bottle to his lips the phantom took a swig.

‘By god that is good stuff!’

Donald felt his legs buckling beneath him, staggering over to his chair he crashed down into it.

‘What is going on here?’ he gasped.

‘Bloody redcoats, Uncle. It was Captain Treymaine and his cut-throat red devils looting our homes to raise more money for that English bastard on the throne,’ spat Jamie as he swigged another mouthful of spectral whiskey, ‘by god that hits the spot!’

‘They came to the fort demanding money; they ransacked the chapel and pistol whipped father Dougal when he tried to stop them taking the vestments. Then they came to the house overturning tables and smashing everything. They pulled a burning log from the hearth and set afire to the curtains. Father gave me all we had, three hundred sovereigns. I made my way out the back but was spotted by the looting red devils. I managed to lose them in the hills, but three of them spotted me a ways back. I shot one of the Sassenachs!’ Jaime said grinning proudly as he pulled at his blood spattered shirt. ‘The shot spooked the horses giving me time to slip away.’

Donald sat exasperated at the whole mad situation, his mind threatened to cast him into oblivion as he clawed desperately trying to hang on to his ebbing sanity. Then suddenly, Donald leaped out of his chair as a banging sounded on the door and an English voice rang out, ‘Open up in the name of the King!’

‘They have found us, Uncle, quick, man run for your life, I will slow them down,’ hissed Jamie through gritted teeth. Pulling his flintlock from his belt he cocked the hammer back and leveled the pistol at the door.

‘Come on ye red devils, are ye spoiling for a fight!’

The room was filled with the sound of splintering wood, as shards of misty ghost-wood skittered across the floor and vanished.

A soldier in a British long redcoat with a thick leather crossbelt draped over his left shoulder, stepped through the phantom door, wearing a tall red and white mitre hat, his regiment’s insignia was embroidered on it in gold thread. His white pantaloons and gators were spattered and muddied. The spectral soldier growled and pointed his musket with its cruel seventeen inch cold iron bayonet at Jamie.

‘McAllistar!’ Screamed Jamie, as he squeezed the trigger of his pistol.

Donald jumped with shock as the bright flash of gunpowder ignited, filling the air with its acrid sulphurous stench as the pistol’s hammer struck the fizzen plate sending a spark into the powder pan of the pistol’s crude firing mechanism. A loud crack erupted as the pistols lead ball shattered the redcoat’s face sending him jerking backward, where he hit the floor and turned to sanguine ground mist.

A loud shot erupted from outside, Jamie cried out as a spot of red appeared on his shirt just above his waist. Jamie drew his claymore as another redcoat ran through the doorway at him brandishing his bayoneted weapon like a spear. Jamie parried the thrust and pistol whipped the redcoat to the ground, where he thrust his sword into the man’s gut, twisting the blade before withdrawing its blood dripping length out.

‘To hell with ye, red devil!’ Jamie coughed as he collapsed onto the floor his breathing becoming hard and labored.

‘Uncle,’ Jamie rasped fighting for air. ‘Ye… must flee… this place!’ ‘Take… gold… I buried it in roots… of tree… by pool… carved… J.M into it.’

Moving over to Jamie, Donald felt his throat tightening and wetness of tears running down his face as his ghostly ancestor breathed his last before sagging to the ground and turning to mist.

Shacking uncontrollably, Donald grabbed his bottle of malt and began gulping down the burning amber liquid. Slumping in his chair, Donald stared into the flames of the hearth fire until sleep finally granted him relief from the nightmare he had witnessed.

 

Opening his bleary eyes as morning light poured through the window, Donald stared into the dying embers of the fire. Shivering at the drop in temperature, Donald looked at the empty whiskey bottle.

‘I swear I will never drink again!’ he mumbled as images of last nights nightmare filled his mind. Making for the bathroom, Donald suddenly yelped at a stabbing pain in his foot.

Looking down, Donald’s eyes open wide as he reached down and picked up a silver brooch with its amber stone.

‘It… really happened!’ Donald mouthed as he shivered.

 

After a quick wash, Donald had donned a warm coat, hat and gloves and had taken a spade out of the back shed. Outside, the chill winter air turned his breath to mist as he trudged through the snow, heading toward his favourite spot over the hill; where a small frozen pool by the brook awaited him with the stump of an old tree with the moss covered initials J.M carved into its old frozen trunk and buried in its rotten roots a rotted leather bag with three hundred gold sovereigns.


© Copyright 2017 Celtic-Scribe63. All rights reserved.

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