The Monster Man of Horror House (24 page)

BOOK: The Monster Man of Horror House
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games,” I insisted. “They took Dicky. They were waiting for him when he got
home. He’s dead!”



says Dicky’s dead.”


young ’un.”

you done to him, boy?”


ice at all, Mary?”

no no, it weren’t me, it was them. You’ll see, the shadows,” I warned, but all
at once temperaments began to flare and accusations started flying across the
pub until Mary suggested the obvious, that someone went up to Dicky’s cottage
to check it out for themselves.

is certainly one way of stopping a heated conversation in its tracks.

– ear-splitting silence.

those old boys who'd taken so much pleasure pouring piss and wind all over my evening’s
traumas now took one enormous collective step back at the chance to dust off
their own spines for inspection.

on guys,” Mary exclaimed, “someone’s got to go up to Dicky’s place and take a
look for pity’s sake. He might be hurt.”

er… it’s not that I don’t want to, only I did tell the missus I’s only be a
second or so…” said one of the bottlers at the back as he quickly necked his
free nightcap and slapped his feet off into the night.

I’d probably should be going too,” came the general consensus.

buggery’s sake!” Brian eventually growled, grabbing Ronnie Earlcott, Tony Potter
and one or two others who were trying to make a break for the door before they
found themselves conscripted into Brian’s army. “We’ll go up there to check
he’s okay. So grab what you can and meet us in the street in two minutes.”

grabbed a double-barrelled shotgun from over the bar and filled it with shells
from a box next to the cash register. He stuffed another couple into his pocket
and bundled me out of the pub and up the street to rejoin the rest of the
reluctant posse, who’d all raided their garden sheds for the war ahead.

stick close to me, boy,” he told me.

Earlcott didn’t seem to have made the final five, for reasons known only to
Ronnie Earlcott, so after a few minutes of waiting we pressed on up the road,
up the dirt path, and up to Dicky’s cottage, all the time with Brian unsure exactly
who to point his shotgun at. Me or the shadows.

cottage was quiet and covered in flickering shapes, but these shapes were
merely a line of nearby poplars filtering the half moonlight onto Dicky's
thatch. The five of us stood by the gate for several seconds scouring every
inch with torch-beams while Brian worked up the courage to call to him.

Dicky, it’s Brian. Are you all right in there? Dicky, it’s us!”

looked for Dicky at the windows, hoping beyond hope that Mary and Brian were
right, that I’d lost my marbles or had drunk too much this evening or had taken
a bump to the head when I’d crashed my car or something. Anything. Anything
other than what I knew to be the truth.

Dicky didn’t appear.

cottage remained in gloom and nothing stirred, only the breeze in the trees and
the silhouettes of Dicky’s poplars dancing across the silvery thatch of his

were there, I swear it,” I whispered. “They were all over his cottage. But
they… they…” I tried, but trailed off when I struggled to understand for myself
what they did, never mind describe it to somebody else. Instead, I settled for
a less involved explanation. “Then they… they… got him.”

like a load of hokey to me,” Colin Foster grumbled, though he failed to follow
this up with any voluntary investigating of his own despite being the local
magistrate. Instead, he just holstered his hoe, bid us all a final goodnight
and headed back down the track to his own cottage before we were able to
determine otherwise.

one of us go and knock on his door,” Jack Turner-Green suggested, twitching his
yard broom at Brian and then the loaded shotgun he was carrying to give us some
sort of a clue as to who he was thinking about.

dillied, while the rest of us dallied, until he eventually let out a snort of
frustration and pushed open the gate and headed into the breech. The lads
covered him with their Ever Ready torches in case of trouble while I kept my
eyes on the windows. Brian got to the door and took a deep breath. He rapped on
the knocker two or three times then legged it back to us as if playing Knock
Down Ginger.


he’s asleep,” one of the lads suggested hopefully, but even the most
conscientious of Brian’s objectors had trouble buying that one with any level
of conviction.

he’s out.”

he’s up in his field.”

Maybe. Maybe.

was sent up to knock again and despite three more loud raps on the knocker,
nothing stirred inside the house.

shone his torch through the letterbox and then through each of the front windows
until he saw something on the kitchen floor he didn’t like: pots and pans, cups
and plates, knives and forks. There’d evidently been a struggle and now Dicky
wasn’t answering. Ghosts or no ghosts there’d been shenanigans afoot and no

came back and shoved the shotgun in my face.

boy, now why don’t you tell us what really happened before l blow your chuffing
head off. Where’s Dicky? What have you done with him?”

boys turned on me, their accusations as blinding as their torchlights, though
none shone brighter than the end of Brian’s shotgun.

swear, honestly, on my life, I haven’t laid a finger on Dicky. It was them… … …
oh God!” I tailed off as the poplar shadows on the roof now started clambering
down the sides of Dicky’s cottage and towards us.

was what
?” Brian shook me.

simply pointed.


lads spun as one but the instant they did the shadows disappeared, but only
from Dicky’s roof. They reappeared all around us, in the trees, down the dirt
track and underneath the hedgerows, only this time I wasn’t the only one to see

the bleeding buggery…”


all around us.”

Mother of Joseph…”

lads backed off and tried to catch a glimpse of what had started stalking us on
all sides, but each time they shone their torches at the shadows, they simply
melted away like quick silver, only to reappear elsewhere a moment later.

get the hell out of here!” Jack Turner-Green finally resolved, turning and
bolting right through the rest of us as if we were bulrushes to be shoved aside
and trampled. The shadows grew closer: twisted black fingers reached through
the undergrowth to snag our loose limbs, while twisted black voices whispered
hideous conspiracies to fan the flames of our terrors.


rest of us now made a run for it, stumbling back down the dirt track and towards
the high street, flashing our torchlights in all directions to clear the path of
shadows, only to create infinitely more as their beams were refracted through a
thousand leaves of foliage.

and I were younger than the others, but even we couldn’t keep pace with the old
timers out front. I guess a suddenly invitation to dine with the Devil can be a
great leveller for most. Jack Turner-Green was a particularly sprite chicken,
jettisoning slippers, yard broom and torch as he galloped for deliverance, but
the shadows had him fixed in their sights and they weren’t about to go hungry.

huge black hole suddenly swept across the path from right to left, snatching
Jack in mid-stride and wiping him from this earth. I heard his screams but he
was gone before they were and nothing remained, save for the snap of air that
collapsed back into the space he’d once occupied.

Jesus, they’ve got him!” Tony Potter screeched, pulling up sharply for fear of
blundering through where his friend had just been.

moving! Keep going!” Nigel Whatsisname urged, slamming into the back of Tony
and shoving him forwards, but it was too late; a gnarled outline stretched out a
twisted claws and swiped Nigel clean through the midriff. Nigel shrieked and
for a moment lost every spot of colour before splintering into a million sizzling

Tony howled, but he too was gone before he could utter another vowel, swallowed
up by the night to leave only a wisp of sulphur in his wake.

left just me and Brian. The shadows now moved in for the kill but Brian wasn’t
the sort of man to go under without a fight, no matter how utterly futile the
gesture was, so he levelled the shotgun and blasted the onrushing black air as
if it were solid.

a moment the whole of the forest was lit up by the powder charge leaving the
barrel and Brian and I were once again alone in the forest. The shapes returned
with the night, but they seemed further back than they had been before and
Brian shot again, sending lead pellets and sparks in all directions as he
started emptying his pockets through both barrels of his 12-bore.

go go!” he shouted as he shot and so without fully understanding how we’d won our
reprieve, we ran for our very souls.

reached the end of the track a few moments later and tumbled out of the trees
and onto our faces on the high street. Torch beams soon bathed us in white
light and we looked up to see the whole village had turned out to see what all
this fuss, nonsense and gunfighting was all about.

would soon know.



“Is that you shooting up there, young Brian?”

happened? What’s going on?”

you seen my Jack? Was he with you?”

Brian was far too busy scrambling to his feet to answer any questions and I
wasn’t that much freer with my time either.

Run for your chuffing lives, they’re coming!” Brian was at least generous
enough to share this with his fellow Long Fentonians but they didn’t take heed;
they just stood there staring and gawping at us as we sprinted back to the brightly
lit pub, scratching their heads and wondering what on Earth could be coming down
the track that would make them want to run for their lives.


Jesus, look at that?”

the hell...”

my God…!”

didn’t stand a chance.

looked back, just for a moment, and saw a sight that’ll stay with me for the
rest of my days – and no doubt long beyond. An army of darkness swarmed
out of the dirt track and from the trees on either side of the road and gobbled
up the villages as if they were blades of tinder grass caught in the updraft of
a forest fire.

villagers tried to run – they tried – but you simply can’t outrun pure
evil. Not without a good head start anyway. Charcoal phantoms to the left, to
the right and from above dropped on them from all sides and snatched them
asunder, reducing them to forgotten memories as the villagers tumbled in on
each other.

slotted the last two cartridges into his gun and gave the night both barrels,
winning us a few more precious yards with which to make it to the pub, and we bowled
wide-eyed Mary flat onto her backside as we bundle on past her, slamming the
door in our wake and flicking on every light that we could find.

Earlcott and three or four others were already inside with their feet well and
truly under the table and they blinked in sync as we killed the mood lighting
in favour of dazzle.

happening? What’s going on?” Mary tried once more, but we were not inclined to any
answer questions a short spell of inactivity would answer just as emphatically.
Instead we pushed the old boys out of their seats, upturned their tables
against the windows and stacked chairs against doors until we had nothing left
to stack.

please just tell me, what’s happening?”

gone. They’re all gone!” Brian finally shouted, stuffing shotgun shells into
his pocket and knocking the head off a bottle of brandy to empty across two
dirty glasses. We knocked them back in unison and wondered how we were still
alive to see the terror in our hearts reflected back in each other’s expressions.

gone?” Ronnie Earlcott asked.

of them,” I told him. “Everyone who came with us. Everyone who’s still out
there. Everyone!”

old boys still didn’t seem to be able to take it all in, but none of them poo-pooed
our ghost stories any more, not even the Parson, who it seemed spent more time
in here than he did next door.

Green? Tony Potter? Jim Reynolds? All dead?” he sought to clarify

BOOK: The Monster Man of Horror House
9.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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