Druids Rock (Part 1)

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: The Dark And Suspenseful
Below a place of ancient worship, something dark slumbers, but someone wants to awaken that dark thing and it will take blood letting to do this.

Submitted: February 29, 2020

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Submitted: February 29, 2020

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The movement in the long grass ahead of him stopped and all was still, as a matter of fact in his over forty years he had never witnessed the place this quiet. The thought had no sooner entered his head when a burst of activity in the long grass, was followed by the sound of frantically flapping wings, as the mallard took to the air. Rusty made one last desperate jump at his prey but his teeth clapped together on fresh air, the old setter came trotting back to his side wearing a dejected expression. She sat on the marshy ground and leaned her body against his leg; Joe Flannery leaned down and patted her on the head.

 The dog whined softly and stared out at the vastness of the land before them, something was wrong and the dog could feel it. It was almost as if the very earth was holding its breath, Joe loved this land, he had been born on it and he would die on it, and finally, he would go to his eternal rest in it. There was nothing he did not know about this land, and he felt darkness coming over it. From where the man and his dog stood, the higher gravestones of the old cemetery could be seen sticking their heads above the dry stone wall, which separated that place of death from the surrounding countryside. All of Joe’s people had been buried there, going back two hundred years or more, and he had buried his wife Mary there a short five years ago.

Joe rested the long wooden staff in the crook of his arm and lit his pipe, before removing his flat cap and scratching his head. He was not a man that could be described by any manner or means as having a fanciful nature, but something in the very air felt wrong. The only way he could think to describe it was the way the air felt just before a major thunderstorm. The clouds sinking over the peaks of the surrounding hills looked dark and menacing, and he knew that before long the rain would come. But whatever was wrong, Joe had a strong feeling that it had nothing to do with atmospheric conditions, no, there was definitely something else at play here. He placed the pipe back in the pocket of his waxed coat and called softly to the dog to follow him. The promised rain had begun to make its way down the slopes of the hill, they needed to move fast now or be drenched before they got home.

The shortest route back to the cottage took man and dog up the side of a steep valley, below them in a small stand of stunted trees some of his sheep huddled together. He had noticed that even the animals appeared disturbed by something; he stopped walking and watched Rusty, she was standing stock still on the trail ahead of him. Her tail between her legs she crouched with head low whimpering softly, he followed her gaze even though he had a good idea what she was looking at. On the far side of the valley halfway up the hill an outcrop of rocks stuck out, the sight of them always left him slightly disturbed. The old bitch hated and feared those rocks, ever since she had followed a hare into an opening below the biggest one. The thought of that day still left him cold; he was convinced he had lost his beloved Rusty on that day.

It was one of those pet days between autumn and winter, the sun felt warm on his back and he carried his coat thrown over his shoulder. Rusty was younger back then and still had a share of youthful skittishness about her, he could scarcely keep her under control as she bounded to and fro following the scent of whatever animals had crossed the trail before them. They had just passed the stand of stunted trees when the dog picked up the scent of the hare, off she flew in pursuit and a hare broke from some undergrowth ahead. He stood watching her with no small amount of amusement, the young dog was about to learn a valuable lesson, that it was highly unlikely she would ever capture a healthy hare. He watched her race over and back as the wild animal darted this way and that, she would be long exhausted before she got anywhere near the Wiley hare. Before long the hare disappeared from sight leaving the dog walking in circles sniffing the ground.

Not willing to accept defeat that easily the dog moved on sniffing the ground even though she was tired from the short chase, Joe had followed her smiling to himself. But when she started heading directly for Druids Rock, he found himself growing anxious, both people and animals usually gave that place a wide berth. He called her but she ignored him and kept moving, by the time he got near she had disappeared from sight. He spent the next ten minutes calling her and calling her, it was only when he stopped to draw a breath that he heard her muffled cries. With great difficulty, he located where the cries were coming from, and even more, difficulty, to drag her through the narrow opening below the rock. He had to carry her back to the cottage that day, and every time he put her down, her legs trembled so much they would not support her, and ever since then she hated and feared Druids Rock. It was weeks before he could get the bitch to go any further than the garden gate.

Joe sat with his stockinged feet close to the fire, Rusty lay curled on the mat beside him. The only other light was from the standing lamp in the corner of the cozy sitting room, the radio played softly in the background. The maritime weather was being read out by a man with a soft monotonous tone, Joe usually found this extremely relaxing. But tonight he gazed into the flames and his mind was occupied by Druids Rock, his thoughts took him back to a time when he was just a child. In this very room, he had asked his grandfather about the strange outcrop of rocks, and it took some perseverance on his behalf before the old man would speak of it. According to his grandfather, it was named Druids Rock because that was where the Druids of the area came to worship, but he also told him that ever before the Druids walked this earth, others had worshiped there. When he pressed as to who they were and who they worshiped, all the old man would say was that it was a bad place and to stay clear of it.

The girl had managed to escape them and ran as only a person whose life depended on it could run, but deep in her mind she knew it was just a futile exercise; it was like screaming at an advancing storm. The torrential rain had turned the ground into a quagmire that sought to drag her into the bowels of the earth, black glutinous peat oozed between the toes of her bare feet, and particles of long-dead trees nipped at the tender skin between those toes. Her flimsy nightdress was soaked through and every part of her naked body was on view, at any other time it might have been mistaken for an erotic statement. But here in this strange place, there was no mistaking that something was terribly wrong, these moors were alien to her; she had always been a city girl and could never even remember a trip to the countryside. The people who had snatched her from her own bed were unknown to her, why they had picked her she could not even imagine. However, the one thing she did know deep down inside, was the fact that they had brought her here to die. Tears flowed silently down her cheeks only to be washed instantly away by the incessant rain, a frantic voice in her head told her it was pointless to cry she must conserve her energy and run.

She was exhausted by the time she reached the small stand of stunted trees, hypothermia had begun to set in and her extremities were filled with a strange tingling sensation. Perhaps if she could quite her breathing these ancient stunted trees might give her some protection, they were a darker spot on a pitch dark night and just might hide her. She listened with her head to one side but she could not hear any sound of pursuit, then again any movement would be masked by the drumming of the rain against the already sodden earth. The sudden movement close by, and the pale figure in the darkness galvanized her into action. Looking behind her she ran straight into the arms of the big man in the hooded raincoat, too late Jennifer Coffee learned she had been chased from her hiding place by a sheep. A fist like a mallet collided against her chin and the world went black, Jennifer never even felt the strong hands that carried her to her place of sacrifice.

The moment the curved blade of the sacrificial knife made contact with Jennifer Coffee’s exposed throat, the skies erupted in a lightning display that turned night into day. The small group watching the despicable act were all dressed in a similar manner, raincoats of varying lengths with hoods. They stood as if in a trance as the young woman’s blood mingled with the rain and ran in a river down the ancient rock, here it made its way through the partially hidden opening and further down into the chamber below. Down there in the darkness something stirred something that had slumbered for eons. The man held the knife aloft and spoke aloud in words that were snatched away on the howling wind, even was anyone to hear these words they would not understand them. But deep in the cavernous darkness beneath Druids Rock; that which slumbered there heard the words and understood them.

Joe was disturbed from his sleep by the sounds of the storm, outside in the hallway Rusty whimpered softly to herself, and he called to her. She only settled once he allowed her to curl up beside him on the bed when Joe did finally find sleep again it was a troublesome slumber haunted by dark dreams. A little over a mile away, in a place at a higher elevation, an unconscious woman was unaware that her remaining life span could now be measured in short minutes. Her life essence poured freely from the gaping wound in her throat and hurried to a place of darkness, there among the ancient stones and roots it would find the thing that craved it. The druids had used every last morsel of their knowledge and power, yet they had only managed to consign the thing to a captivated slumber.

 It had always known that one day it would awaken to take revenge on humankind; it had existed for eons beyond eons before humans ever walked this land, and it would exist long after it destroyed its tormenters. The awakening was close now and it stirred in the darkness of the ethereal abyss it had been consigned to, a few more sacrifices and it would awaken fully. The part of its mind that had been awakened conjured delightful images of carnage; it would reap a whirlwind so devastating, that once again this land would be returned to the dark state it so beloved. Even now the part of its consciousness that was awake began to send dark tendrils through the very earth, as it prepared the land for its second coming. By the time it was free of its prison, a dark and poisoned land would be there to greet it, a land that would sustain neither human nor animal. It would summon more of its kind to populate a dark and barren world, and the very thought of this gave it great satisfaction.

Jennifer Coffee had lost all resemblance now to the living vibrant woman she had been just a short few hours before; it was as if that woman had been spirited away to be replaced by a perfect replica of that person but one of alabaster. She had become a horrifyingly magnificent work of art, the masterpiece of a magician of the macabre. Her hair spread by the flowing water had taken on a crimson hue that matched the gaping wound on her throat, the man who had yielded the blade felt somewhat comforted by this line of thinking. He reconciled his actions by the fact that he had taken an imperfect human and created a perfect work of art, and it had all been done for a greater cause. Soon their work would be completed and the world would be returned to its original form, a reset to a time before mankind became enveloped in sin and corrupted god’s greatest creation. The big man bent over and cleaned the blade of the knife on the earth by the opening, he nodded and the body was removed, by morning there would be no sign of what had taken place here.

The leaden skies outside the cottage complemented Joe’s mood, he had awoken to a disturbing feeling of foreboding that he could not shake. Sitting at the kitchen table he stared at the breakfast that had grown cold on the plate, Rusty laid on the floor her head resting on her two front paws as she watched him. Sometimes he wondered what it would be like to be a dog, to invest all of your trust in a master that looked after your every need. The radio played softly in the background, the man reading the morning news sounded suitable somber in his tone. But no one could help but be somber in his position; the news rarely gave a person any cause to be anything other than somber. He stirred on his chair and the dog lifted her head with a hopeful expression, she cared nothing for depressing news stories of abducted women or wars for profit. Perhaps it would not be all bad, to be a dog that knew nothing of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man. Joe left the plate with the untouched breakfast on the floor. “Go on girl, eat up and don’t let the food go to waste”. Rusty duly obliged and the food disappeared from the plate as if by magic.

Joe left the house and locked Rusty inside; she was standing on her hind paws now staring through the window with a look of melancholy on her face. He turned away from her as a pang of guilty came over him, how could he explain to an animal that went everywhere with him that today was different. He could hardly rationalize his actions to himself, other than the fact that he thought that keeping her inside was the safest option.  Perhaps the isolation was getting to him, hill farming was a solitary existence and he would often go days on end without any human contact. Maybe that was the reason for his low spirits, after all, he would not be the first or last of his kind to be enveloped by depression. It was an insidious thing that crept up on you before you even realized it was coming; folks in these parts never mentioned the word depression, preferring to refer to it as “The Black dog”. It was as good as any way to describe it because it was like a black dog that followed you everywhere. Forcing himself from his reverie Joe loaded the back of the old jeep with bales of hay; he wanted to get the sheep foddered before the weather turned nasty.

Joe made several trips over and back to the yard drawing feed for the animals that were in various locations around the farm, it was mid-afternoon before he loaded the jeep with hay for the small flock in the field below Druids Rock. For some unknown reason he had been avoiding this particular trip, normally it would have been one of his first drops as it required more footwork. Now as he headed up there the empty seat beside him where Rusty always sat seemed all the more poignant, ever since his wife had passed on the bitch had been his constant companion. Life had never seen fit to bless their marriage with children, and then he had lost Mary all too soon.  The thought of this still brought a pang of grief, as a vivid image of the once beautiful woman reduced to an emaciated state flashed across his mind’s eye. Rusty was all he had left in this world now, and that was the reason he had chosen to leave her back at the house.

He was out of breath and sweating by the time he had brought the last bale from the jeep parked on the narrow lane, to the stand of stunted trees, it was only then he realized something was not right. It took a few moments to process the thought but it finally registered with him, the sheep had not come running for their feed. They huddled in a group at the center of the stand of trees trembling; he had seen this behavior before when sheep had been worried by a pack of dogs. However, nothing showed any evidence of marauding dogs and in the end, he brought the feed to them, hoping that whatever was spooking them would pass. As he was leaving he glanced in the direction of the rocky outcrop on the slope of the valley, something about the picture did not sit right with him and he stood staring until he could make sense of it. Joe had walked these hills since he was a child and knew almost every blade of grass, he knew every animal that passed through, by the trails they left. It did not take him long to recognize the trail left by whoever had visited Druids Rock since he had been here yesterday.

Against his better judgment, he felt drawn to the outcrop, even though he could sense another storm coming in. He followed the trail up the side of the valley, immediately observing that some footprints were far deeper than others in the soft ground. Pools of water had gathered in the deep prints from last night’s rain, either the owners of those prints were extremely overweight in which case the steep walk would prove difficult, or a number of the party had carried something heavy between them. But the question was, why would anyone come up here carrying a burden? The immediate area around Druids Rock had been disturbed in a semi circler pattern as if a group of people had panned out flattening the grass with their feet. Joe was convinced now that he could see a very faint crimson stain on the surface of the rock, he reached out and touched it and the world went black. How long he had been out he could not say, but he was drawn from the darkness by the whimpering sound of his own voice. All the way back to the jeep he kept shaking his head from side to side, in a vain attempt to banish the horrifying visions of what he saw in the darkness,

 

 

 

 

 



© Copyright 2020 Patrick G Moloney. All rights reserved.

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