The Narrow Lane

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic


A young man living in an old city notices a mysterious lane that nobody else seems to realise exists. Its existence haunts him until he decides to explore and uncover the truth behind the
mysterious narrow lane...

Submitted: November 23, 2017

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Submitted: November 23, 2017

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Every morning I would walk from my home on the eastern side of the city to my place of work on the west. It was a fair trek, but a pleasant one. The city was a thousand years old and I loved it dearly.

In the centre of the city, atop the hill, stood the weathered castle and around it, the city grew and expanded outward. The main high Street curved its way around the hill on the south side and it was along here that I made my journey every day.

Like many of the city’s other residents, I had lived my whole life here and had made the same journey every day. We thought we knew every inch of the city; all the streets and avenues, all the back alleys and lanes, every nuance and secret that lay hidden in forgotten parts of this ancient place. Yet, there was one lane which no one seemed to notice, a lane which existed in plain sight, a lane which was on the main High Street.

Twenty-six years I had lived here, and I had never seen that lane. It was only when a rude gentleman pushed past me that I noticed it, as I had almost fallen into it. Disgusted by the manners expressed by the man, I righted myself and carried on with my journey. It was only after I had taken a few steps that it occurred to me what had actually happened; I had been knocked into a place I didn’t know existed. I turned around and looked at the dark lane. I was sure that hadn’t always been there, and it appeared to me that nobody else noticed it either, for everyone in the street passed it without so much as a glance in its direction. Not a single person looked at it or even looked in the direction of it. It was the strangest thing I had ever witnessed.

From that day on I always noticed the lane as I passed it. In fact, I saw nothing else, even when I closed my eyes at night I still saw that dark, mysterious and unusual lane. It haunted me. Where did it come from? Where did it lead to? Why didn’t anyone else acknowledge it?

It must have always been there, lanes didn’t just appear out of nowhere. But why then, in my twenty-six years of life, could I not recall any memories of this lane? I would have understood if it had been on a lesser travelled side street but on the main high street? Where most of the shops and places of business are? It made no sense.

My wife agreed with me when I asked her about it. She too couldn’t recall any memories of a lane at the point that I described. She did, however, suggest that the lane could be new, that they had recently constructed it. There were a couple issues with that, though; the first being that I would have remembered seeing said construction being done and the second was the simple fact of logistics. How does one carve a lane through the centre of the city without impacting the buildings that occupied the area?

She also suggested that the lane had always been there and that it had faded into the background due to my familiarity with the area. I walked the route every day to and from work. I had visited the shops an uncountable number of times throughout my life and there were times when I just liked to go for a stroll through the streets. I had spent so much time in the city that aspects of it had become so common I didn’t see them anymore.

Although these suggestions were possible, they did not satisfy my curiosity. I considered my observational skills to be excellent and I couldn’t get it out of my head that there was something else to it, that there was something strange about that lane. So, one Saturday morning when I had no other engagements, I decided to investigate and to at last put my mind at ease.

#

The lane was unassuming in its presence. It was sat between two shops -a bakery and a bookstore- and nobody noticed it. Except for me. It had a small entrance way, more like a passageway rather than a lane as it passed through a building rather than existing between two separate buildings. I considered that this could be part of the reason why I had never noticed it before.  It didn’t stand out at all, it was just there.

 I stood before the lane for a few moments before I finally stepped into the unknown. The lane was narrow with only enough space for one person and only just tall enough for me to pass through without needing to duck. This didn’t last long, though, for once I reached the rear of the building the lane curved around the corner and the ceiling was gone. I could see the sky once more and it looked a little more overcast than it did when I had entered the lane only a few moments earlier. I thought nothing of it, though, as this was England and the weather could change in an instant.

The lane was still narrow with high walls on both sides and stonework that looked a lot older than that seen anywhere else in the city. For the most part, the city consisted of an interesting blend of Edwardian, Victorian and Gothic architecture; with a hint of medieval provided by the masterful castle on top of the hill. There were buildings spread around the city from each period, some of them stood side by side. It proved for an interesting and wonderful sight. This, however, appeared much older, more ancient; it was beautiful.

There was no doubt in my mind that this lane was one of the oldest remaining constructions of the city. Predating even that of the castle. As this idea formed in my mind, the lane seemed to take on characteristics of styles present elsewhere in the city. 

I followed the lane no longer caring where it led, it was a sight so unique that I wanted to absorb it all. I let my hands and fingertips grace the walls on either side of me, feeling the different stones used. It was almost too much for my mind to comprehend. It was unlike anything I had ever seen or felt before in my life. Limestone, concrete, sandstone, timber and thatch made up the construction of the lane. Sometimes all at once.

 This confusion and wonderment was amplified by the twisting and turning of the lane. It left me feeling somewhat disorientated and lost as to the direction I was walking in. When I first entered the lane, I was heading north from the main street and then west after it turned behind the buildings, but now I couldn’t guess. At times, I was certain I knew where I was, that the walls were the rear of shops on the high street, but I couldn’t be sure.

It was also peculiar that there were no doors or gates at any point along the lane. Surely these buildings had backdoors, but I didn’t see any, so where were they?

I walked for what felt like hours. It should not have taken that long to reach the exit, yet all I could see before me was the narrow lane. I couldn’t recall how many times I had turned a corner or descended a set of steps or ascended once more. I couldn’t tell you where in the city I was anymore.

I looked towards the sky and I could see the clear, star-filled night; what a striking sight it was, especially with the castle sat atop the hill. It was, in fact, one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen, so wondrous that it captured my soul.

All sense of time was completely lost as I gazed upon the magnificent castle. It possessed several turrets; four on the outer wall and three as part of the central keep. The keep stood fifteen to twenty feet taller than the outer wall and on the northern side was the great tower, which extended a further thirty feet.

A sight that all residents of the city were proud of, and a sight that people travelled from all over the country to see. Yet, I felt I was the only person in the world to have seen the castle from this angle, from this unknown place. This wonderful, unique and peculiar place.

I became completely lost in the world around me; the castle set against the star-filled sky, the stonework of the walls, the cobblestone path on which I walked, the twisting and turning nature of the lane, all of it, devoured me.

I walked and I walked, the passage of time no longer meant anything to me, this was all I knew. I had died and this was my eternity.

It was only when I started to feel a desert-dry thirst that I became aware of my situation. I had never felt so thirsty before, nor had I felt this tired or weak before, it snapped my mind back to reality. What was wrong with me? What had happened? For how long had I been walking? Where was I?

Each step forward was a struggle, but I had to keep going. I had to get out of this lane. The beauty of this world had ensnared me, it had lured me in and now I felt so wrong. Something was wrong and I had to escape. I had to find the exit and then as if some force knew what I wanted, it was given to me.

In the distance, I could see what looked like an exit. I used what strength I had left to reach the end of the lane before I collapsed from exhaustion. It was to my surprise that the lane brought me out on the main High Street not far from the path that led up to the castle on top of the hill.

I lay on the ground panting and in dire need of help. I had made it out of the lane but it would be all for nought if I did not receive help soon. As luck would have it, a police officer on patrol found me and helped me up. They sat me on a bench nearby and gave me a drink and tried to find out who I was.

They asked me if there was someone I could contact, a relative or carer who could come and collect me. Maybe a son or a daughter that they could contact on my behalf. I was so confused, what were they talking about? My daughter was only two years old, what could she do to help? It would be more useful for them to contact my wife, she could help.

While I tried to convey this to the police officer, I noticed that my hands were not my own. These were old and dry, unlike like mine. From there, I noticed the cuffs of my jacket were worn and tattered, it seemed they too were old.

Apprehensive, I moved my hands over my body and with my eyes followed them. I could see and feel the degradation in my clothing and in my flesh. I lifted my hands up to my face. I could not tell if they shook from fear at what they might feel or for some other unknown reason. More than likely, it was both.

The face I felt did not feel like mine, it did not feel like the young face I knew. The skin was dry and coarse, while unfamiliar facial hair covered my hollow-cheeked face. Memories of my grandfather in the years before his death arose in my mind. But, I was a young man, how could I be like him? Or at least, I was young.

Was I young? Nothing made sense. The last thing I could remember for sure was entering the lane. The lane, it was to blame. Excited with realisation, I tried to convey this to the police officer, but he insisted that I calm down.

Amidst the verbal struggle the distant calling of father and grandfather caught our attention, and two ladies ran towards us. One of them, who looked middle-aged, called me father and apologised to the police officer, while the other, called me grandfather, gave me a hug and asked if I was okay. They were both pretty, but I did not recognise either. It seemed they were family, though.

I begged them to let me go through the lane again, that I needed to get my life back, that I needed to be young again, to live again. Maybe, if I entered the lane on this side it would work in reverse and I would be young again, I would be back where I was supposed to be; when I was supposed to be.

They shushed me and tears began to stream down my face. The younger one took my hand and looked up at me worried, while the other attended me with experience in her eyes. I gazed into her eyes and through my tears, I thought for a moment I could see my baby girl, my beautiful Olivia. She saw the brief moment of recognition and smiled. Seeing the smile, the younger lady smiled also and relaxed a little.

I shook my head. No, it couldn’t be her, how could it be her? My daughter was only a child, who I left with my wife only this morning. Yet my hands, my face, my clothing and these ladies implied otherwise. If then it was true, how was it I possessed no memories of anything in my life after entering that lane, that godforsaken lane.

I tried once more to move in the direction of the lane, but the two ladies stopped me and said they would take me home. I was too weak and exhausted to fight against them and, therefore, submitted to their will. I let them lead me back to my home which I discovered was a nursing home.

#

I realised as we drew close to the nursing home, that I lived with my wife and daughter in this area, which was about a mile from the city centre. But, it was different. Where there used to be a post office, there was now a sandwich shop, and where the park used to be, there were now more houses.

When we arrived, my granddaughter, whose name I discovered was Elise, sat me in a chair that looked as old as the other residents. My daughter in the meantime scolded the staff nurses for letting me wander off unsupervised. I could hear her from the other room. She also complained about them letting me wear my old and ragged clothes.

But I was no longer wearing them. My granddaughter had helped me to undress and put on something they considered to be more suitable. That was when I saw myself, saw what I had become. In what was apparently my bedroom, there was a full-length mirror, and unfortunately, I saw my reflection as I undressed. The visage was horrifying.

I was a walking corpse. The outline of ribs showed under blemished my skin and I found it difficult to stand up straight. My back and knees felt too stiff and weak to support my body.

As I stared at my reflection a new horrifying thought occurred to me; how long did I have left? Judging by my physical appearance and how it felt to move I worried it may not be long at all. My whole life was gone; 50 years, a daughter, a granddaughter, my daughter’s wedding, the death of my wife. Nothing Elise told me sounded familiar. No memories of these events returned to me. They could have been stories of a stranger for all I knew, and I questioned the validity of their claims. But the proof of these events surrounded me. For my daughter and granddaughter, Olivia and Elise, it had all happened, but for me, none of it had.

I broke down upon seeing myself in the mirror. Tears streamed down my face as the reality of my situation hit home. I was an old man, a frail old man. This must be the fault of the lane, there was no other explanation; that was the last thing I could remember. I tried to explain this to Elise, but my words were erratic and lost amongst the tears. She consoled me in such a way it seemed like she had done it many times before.

Once settled in my chair, I asked if they would return soon. If we could go back to the lane so I could have a stroll and admire the architecture like I used to do when I was young. They gave a reply that was non-committal, expressed their love for me and then left.

They left, I was alone, and my life was gone. If I could get back to the lane I could be young again, I could live my life. I needed my life back; I needed to be young again, to live the life that was robbed from me. I muttered this to myself, to the staff, to the other residents, to anyone who would listen to me, and even to those who didn’t. I had to get back to the lane, the lane; I had to get back to that narrow winding lane.


© Copyright 2018 Khaelath Ravenholme. All rights reserved.

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