SPANIEL IN THE WIND – a 900 Club Short Story

The 900 Club have now posted their latest short stories for November. The two word phrase this month was “this time”. Please check it out if you enjoy fresh, original short stories. My offering, below, was inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, although it is probably not quite what you’re expecting….

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Spaniel in the Wind

by Martin Bolton

I, Fletcher Stanley Norman, write this now in the hope that I might deter others as foolish and unthinking as myself from perpetrating similarly vile acts. I fear that I have sunk too far into the murky depths of depravity, into realms beyond the light of the sun’s blessed rays, to hold any real hope for my own salvation. I can but warn others that this path I have taken leads only to eternal damnation, and pray that my warning is heeded.

The unwitting catalyst for the change in my previously mild and forgiving disposition was a cocker spaniel named Pete. His arrival in my garden one bright morning in early spring sparked a lamentable transition in my psyche, culminating in the dire events I am about to recount, the consequences of which are poor, innocent Pete’s shallow grave and my enduring slump into despair and darkness. Were it possible to turn back time, I would gladly give my own life in return for little Pete’s, but alas my despicable acts of blind jealousy can never be undone. I can only hope that Pete rests in peace, or perhaps exists in another sphere, beyond the shroud, where he is free from molestation and malice, where he bounds undisturbed through perfumed meadows void of the groping, fungal fingers of sin to which my soul succumbed.

At first, Pete’s boisterous, irrepressible zest for life was a welcome distraction from my permanent pond-side vigil. Each day he would breathe new life into the garden as he bounded back and forth, chasing his tale or following the scent of some long retired nocturnal beast, pausing periodically to slobber noisily over is testicles. There was a contagious energy in him that flowed into his surrounding environment, making every day seem like the first of spring. That energy has now left this derelict place, giving rise to a stagnant greyness that wreathes my pointy hat like a malignant smog and drains the light from my heart.

That first summer after Pete’s arrival seems like a painfully ecstatic dream that serves only to remind me with unrelenting brutality of all that I have destroyed. Pete was the sunshine, and every night as the moon shone upon my pond, I gazed at the water and pictured his manic tale and his thick, spongy ears dangling in the water as he lapped up mouthfuls of green slime. I would patiently wait, knowing he would be back at dawn to a lay steaming mound on the grass and mark me as his own.

But as I watched him, day after day, mindlessly urinating at every opportunity and relentlessly pursuing any hapless creature that ventured within the confines of the garden wall, something dark was nurtured within my soul. I gradually grew to despise Pete.

He became an insufferable annoyance, the constant scent marking seemed unnecessary and, in my head, became a mortal insult directed at me, and his incessant barking at every passer by an ear-splitting cacophony that cut me to the quick. I became irritable and developed a purple temper that flared up and threatened to explode whenever he was present. That indiscriminately affectionate, delirious young cocker spaniel became the secret focus for a deeply destructive, unforgiving hatred.

I was gradually gripped by a malignant, corrosive darkness that dug a fetid pit within my spirit, and it was two years after his arrival that I finally slid so disastrously to its very depths. I remember that morning so vividly that it tears at my heart like the claws of some ravenous raptor to recount it. It was early spring, dew hung heavy on glistening spider-webs, and the chorus of bird song was food for the soul – though mine had long since abandoned such sustenance.

I swear I did not plan what happened next, or perhaps I did in my festering, cursed subconscious. The sun was just rising and steam rose from the hedgerows. I heard the latch on the back door, the noise that signalled my daily torment. True to form, Pete came bounding onto the lawn, barking at the feeding birds, trying vainly to catch one in flight and sending them flapping to the tops of trees. He then squatted for his morning defecation – you could set your watch by his bowel movements. I had witnessed this very scene every day for two years, but this time it would have a different ending. As I watched him through eyes sooty with the blackness of hate, a terrible idea formed in my mind. As Pete squeezed out his final nugget of miasmic waste, I leapt from my rock as if controlled by some powerfully malevolent force, and mounted him roughly. Using my fishing rod as a miniature horse-whip, I gripped one of Pete’s giant ears and I rode him hard around the garden.

God forgive me, I rode him!

We cantered around the perimeter and out the gate. I did not see the range rover. God help me, I did not see it until it was too late! I managed to jump free in the nick of time, but poor, innocent Pete was not so lucky. His skull was crushed like an egg under the front wheel.

Shame and guilt are not my only punishment, for my porcelain heart will live on through the millennia and I shall linger in the knowledge of what I have done.

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A True Story About What Happened in Tehidy Woods – Do You Believe in Ghosts?

Fantasy Fiction The Peace of Elias cover 1 colour

Inspired by a strange experience

As I recently posted my latest 900 Club story, The Woods, on this blog, I thought it would be good to tell the true story that inspired it.

I think we were about 14 at the time. It was me, Justin, Ryan and Aaron. I had a two man dome tent which all four of us were going to sleep in. We were going to get a few beers and camp in the woods.

Tehidy woods is a strange place. There are a lot of ghost stories based there. It is next to the north cliffs, so you have the stories relating to smuggling and shipwrecks on the coast road with the woods on one side and the cliffs on the other. And you have all the stories about the woods themselves. Firstly, there is more then one story about people having hanged themselves there. Secondly, there was a derelict hospital there where I am told old or terminally ill people were sent to die, although I’m not sure what that hospital was actually for. There’s also a small lake with stories about people having drowned in it.

We set the tent up in early evening, in a clearing where my dad used to take me for picnics, and went walking in the woods. While were walking we heard loud noises in the woods. It sounded like people shouting. We thought there must be a bunch of lads up from Portreath or Illogan, pissed up or something, so we ran back to the tent in case they nicked all our stuff. But we couldn’t see anyone and the noise died down so we thought they must have been passing through and we had missed them.

We sat down in the clearing drank a couple of beers and eventually, after it got dark, we crashed out in the tent. I think it must have been about two or three o’clock in the morning, we were woken by the same noise we had heard earlier. It sounded like a lot of people, shouting and talking. We could also hear dogs and what sounded like a hunting horn. When I opened my eyes there were shadows on the tent of what looked like men with axes. Six of them – two on either side and one at the front, one at the back.

We all woke up at the same time and we all saw and heard the same things – all four of us. The noise grew louder and there was also the sound of horses’ hooves and dogs and at one point I heard a carriage go past. Ryan was the hard one out of the four of us, he was never afraid of anything or anyone. He decided there were people outside and he was going to go and kick off. But I knew they were not living people, I could feel it. I think Justin and Aaron could as well because they, like me, were too scared to leave their sleeping bags. Ryan was gone for a few minutes. When he came back he was very pale. He looked terrified and said there was nothing there, just darkness, even though we could still see and hear it all from inside the tent.

We just hid in our sleeping bags. I’m not sure how long it went on for but we must have eventually fallen asleep. The next morning we discussed it and we all had the same memories of the night before. When we told everyone in school, they all wanted to camp there. We went along with them but were too scared to stay the night. As we were walking out past the old hospital in the dark, a night warden/security type bloke was doing his patrol on his bike. He looked frightened. He said, “You’re not staying in the woods, are you? There’s something in those woods and I don’t know what it is. Don’t stay in there at night.” I don’t know if he was winding us up or just saying it to scare us off but I thought he looked genuinely scared.

I’ve always found Tehidy Woods to be a very special place during the daylight hours. Perhaps it is because I have a lot of good memories there from my childhood – running around with my dog and picnics with my parents and my brothers – but it has a tranquil, spiritual feel. This probably sounds silly but at night it seems to take on a more sinister presonality.

You can say what you like about the stories about Tehidy Woods, the North Cliffs and the old hospital. You can say it is all nonsense, places like that breed silly stories. It is true that Cornwall is a place with a lot folklore and many of the stories are clearly ridiculous. It is a tradition I suppose.

But what we saw and heard was real. We weren’t on any hallucinogenics, we weren’t smoking anything, all we had a was couple of beers, and we all saw exactly the same thing. I can’t really explain it, but it happened. The memory is still clear in my mind. I was crapping myself at the time but it has inspired a lot of my writing. There are supernatural elements in The Best Weapon and Sorrow which I’m not sure I would have written if it hadn’t been for that night, and I feel that when I write anything dark and eery, I am writing from first hand experience, not just from horror films or books.

The Woods is my most recent short story, posted on this blog and on the 900 Club. The Peace of Elias is a supernatural fantasy tale also inspired by that strange night in the woods, and is free this Saturday and Sunday on Amazon, so please check it out if you haven’t already.

I would appreciate your thoughts on this post. Do you believe in ghosts? The afterlife? Have you ever experienced anything similar?

Dinner Time of the Gods – a 900 Club Short Story

The 900 Club

It is that time again when I write my monthly short story for the 900 Club. This story pretty much sums me up. I live much of my life in a dream world, which I suppose is one of the reasons I started writing. When my mind does venture into reality, I generally still talk a lot of nonsense. Anyway, without further ado, I give you Dinner Time of the Gods. I hope you like it, and if you do, please check out the 900 Club blog to read four other very talented writers’ work.

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Dinner Time of the Gods

by Martin Bolton

King Luther, Lord of the Shadow Planes, Ruler of the distant Mountains of the Sky and Protector of the Realm of Yarden, stood atop the battlements even as they burned beneath his feet. He had been separated from his elite soldiers, the infamous Rock Guard, when the turret on which he had been fighting was hit by a wall of dragon spit – a curtain of white hot liquid flame vomited by the giant winged serpent known as Hellgroth. He alone of his party made it onto the curtain wall and away from that inferno as the very rock from which it was built exploded, shaking the world around him.

Here, only he had made it, having fought savagely from Stonekeep and across the bailey, slaying his enemies as he went. Having made it to the battlements, his gauntlets ablaze, his sword, Demonbain, blackened with bloody soot, he had slain the barbarian invaders in a berserk rage. The same berserk rage that had won him the crown which now felt fiery hot against his scalp.

For now he was alone, the ruins of his home and his people flaming and crackling around him. He could still hear fighting somewhere to his right, he knew it was within the walls of Stone Garden, though to his reeling senses it sounded distant and muffled. The black, cloying smoke and the sudden quiet lent his world a dream-like quality, but he knew this was no dream. The war was not over, nor would it be until he had faced Hellgroth again.

King Luther knew what he must do, though the odds were heavily against him. The dragon had swooped again and again, destroying much of the castle and circling for another attack. This time the great murderous beast had destroyed a tower along with countless men – its own allies included – and flapped away into the distance. Both the invading army and Luther’s own garrison were decimated, the fighting now reduced to isolated skirmishes amongst a sea of the dead. So it had come to this, a face off between king and dragon, neither with anything left to lose.

King Luther began to laugh. Perhaps the madness of war had finally loosened his wits. Everything was gone. All his eleven wives, his twenty four sons, an army of sixty thousand swords, hundreds of knights and lords, all dead: hacked to pieces in bloody battle or burned to cinders by the breath of Hellgroth the Devil-Cook, the most feared and hated dragon who had ever lived. All for what? He thought he had known once, he seemed to remember there being good reasons to fight. To uphold the law, to protect good people from death, from slavery, from fear. But the longer the war had raged on, the less he had to fight for, and the harder he fought. But now it was time to end it, one way or another.

Luther lifted Demonbain towards the horizon. He watched calmly, and waited for his most terrible foe to return. As he saw the distant black spot in the sky approaching, he laughed louder and harder, and the rage of the berserker took him. He would know the glory of war once more, before knowing the glory of death.

Martin?”

The dragon approached, its vast black wings beating, that malevolent shape growing as it came to take him, to send him once and for all to the eternal halls of warrior kings. A lifetime of…

Martin!”

a lifetime of bloodshed was coming to its close, and part of him felt relief. He was ready, if this was his time, to meet his friends again and feast with the Gods in the afterlife. But before that long awaited time came, he had but one final deed to commit.

Finally, as Hellgroth came to kill his most stubborn and powerful enemy, he opened his great maw and belched a huge ball of flaming liquid – and Luther chose his moment.

Stone Garden!” he cried as leaped from the turret, clearing the dragon’s deadly saliva. As the last remaining tower of Stone Garden exploded, Demonbain sang. King Luther brought the great sword down with all his considerable might and plunged it into the dragon’s skull.

Martin!”

As they tumbled over and over, the dragon in its death throes clawed desperately at him, but Luther refused to let go his sword. Down they tumbled, past the flaming remains of the curtain wall and in to the moat with a great splash and the deafening hiss of steam as it rose from the serpent’s body.

Martin!”

Yes?”

Your dinner is ready. What are you doing in the pond? Look at the state of you! Are those my slippers on the dog’s head?”

They’re wings.”

Oh my goodness! You’re covered in mud and slime. You’ll kill all the fish!”

I’m slaying the dragon.”

Clean yourself up, young man, and get to the table, its dinner time.”

You can’t decide that, I’m the king here.”

Right, that’s it. We’ll see what your father has to say about this. Ted! Ted!”

What is it?”

Martin has been buggering about in your rock garden with the dog again. He’s ended up in the pond! Ted?”

Yes?”

Can you come out here and talk to your son please?”

I can’t right now.”

Why not?”

I’m astral travelling with John Lennon.”

Oh for God’s sake.”