The Waiting Ruins Part 1
It was a place light avoided and hope had deserted long ago.
A place of clinging sadness and ill feeling.
A place of lurking worry, purposely forgotten about by all who ever knew of it, excluded from maps and removed from local legend.
From a distance, and a certain viewpoint, the ancient house wore the cloak of romance, wearing a veil of ivy over its crumbling, moss-tainted stones. The undergrowth around the ruined walls should have harboured the rabbit and hedgehog, and its higher walls been playing host to the sparrow and the crow. But nothing wanted its supposed safeties, feeling the evil that soaked its very core.
Albert Davies had first seen the remains of the house on the hill three years ago, during a visit to his old college friend, Sir Richard Gaunt.
It had been a long and pleasant summer in the country and Davies had spent many a happy hour with Gaunt, reminiscing on old times, shooting and riding. He had developed a great fondness in taking walks around Gaunt’s estate, utilizing footpaths and byways in the surrounding area. He enjoyed the peace of the magnificent countryside and got on well with the local folk, being neither too proud nor arrogant to mix with what his host described as ‘the common populace’.
It was whilst on one of these rambles he happened to turn right instead of left on a fork in the path. How simple a man’s fate can be decided.
The path was overgrown but led eventually to a small cliff overlooking a valley which contained the fields of a farm adjoining his host’s estate. Davies sat on top of the rocks, sipping whisky from a hip flask, feeling the warm sun on his face and admiring the view.
The sky was a clear azure and the sun caused a heat haze over the fields of wheat. Thoroughly at peace with life, as he allowed his gaze to drift across the landscape he was drawn to a tree-covered hill about a mile away along the valley. Through the thick foliage he could just make out the angular structure of a ruin, its dark stones almost completely concealed by the canopy of the woodland greenery. He was puzzled as his diligent examination of the local maps provided by his host, had not, to his recollection, boasted of any ancient monuments or historic houses.
Indeed, his recollection was of there being only fields and a farmhouse in the area. He had with him his telescope, a favoured relic of his family which he took on his walks for bird watching and observing points of interest.
Upon focusing on the ruin, he noted that most of the upper story of the building had fallen in but there were enough clues in the architecture to show it was mid or late medieval.
It took a good hour of brisk walking under the hot afternoon sun for him to approach the woods surrounding the base of the hill. Further progress was confounded by thick walls of blackberry, thickets of hawthorn and steep, muddy banks that made progress both slow and painful. Twilight was approaching, and he was forced to return to Gaunt’s estate for the evening meal, resolving to return on the morrow armed with a walking stick and billhook.
The weather however, intervened. There followed two days of miserable rain and stormy conditions. Davies’ sojourn into the countryside ended and he was forced to return to London on business.
It was a year later that he again journeyed to visit Gaunt and again stay at his country estate.
He had not forgotten the mystery of the ruins on the hill and instigated numerous enquiries. Local maps showed only the hill on the valley floor but there was no mention of any building on its summit. He spoke to Gaunt’s staff and locals in the nearby village. His questions were met with polite but unhelpful replies. No one had any information, local legend or gossip about the hill’s strange structure.
Now, even more intrigued, he set out early, armed with a stout walking stick and sharp billhook borrowed from Gaunt’s gardener to assail the hill’s curtain of foliage.
A darkness seeped from the ruins. An oozing malignance which slipped into your mind, scraping your raised senses till fear whispered warnings in your ear.
The ruins were deliberately difficult to get to. The blackberry formed obstinate walls of green pain and the rough paths were mud-bound and marshy. These were not the house’s defences but nature’s scab over the obscenity of the remains. It was nature’s effort to protect the foolish and unwary from themselves. The house desired the visitor, the curious tourist. It yearned for a sacrifice. A victim.
Before attempting to reach the ruins, Davies called in upon Isaiah Flanders, owner of the farmland on which the hill stood. His hope for information on the mysterious prominence was dashed when his questions to Flanders received poor answers.
Yes, of course he knew about the hill. It was situated in an area of poor soil and the only knowledge he had was that it had been used as a depository for stones and boulders found in the fields when the ground was cleared in ancient times.
No, he’d never considered wasting his time climbing through the dense undergrowth and exploring what lay on top. There was no game gave to shoot or trap and so no incentive to frequent its slopes.
Flanders was a practical man with little use for adventures not concerned with farm work.
What surprised Davies most of all was his ignorance of any building on top of the hill, hidden behind its curtain of trees. In fact, Flanders was impudent enough to state he may have ‘perhaps dreamed it all up’. Davies realised that the few ‘nips’ of whisky to fortify him on his adventure had been detected by Flanders who had made an incorrect assumption about his sobriety.
Affronted and somewhat confused by Flanders’ lack of knowledge, Davies made his way to the foot of the hill and walked around its base determined to find an easier path into the sloping woodland.
He made his first discovery after ten minutes of searching. An old trackway appeared to approach the base of the hill running from the main roadway at the head of the valley. A determined few minutes of hacking down brambles revealed the bases of two gate pillars. Piles of smashed stone littered the undergrowth, and he could see the path was a little clearer into the trees at that point. This must be the old entrance to the property.
Just as Davies started to hack away at the barriers of shrubs and bramble, a breathless stable boy from Gaunt’s household ran up. After much panting, he was eventually able to tell Davies that he was needed urgently back in London where his father had been taken ill. Frustrated but also consumed with worry about his father, he hurried back to the house and hence to London. His father had sickened and eventually died. It was another ten months before Davies could return to the hill.
With effort, the curious and determined could approach, hacking at the tendrils of bramble, ignoring the cruel cuts and scratches of the razor thorns and creeping tree roots that sought to strain ankles and trip the unwary.
The prize of the forlorn endeavour, was the revelation of the ruins. The square dark bones of the old house still stood, its remains leaving an obscure warning to mankind of the price meddling with unspeakable power could demand.
Empty widows that once held primitive glass, stare down like the eyes of a blind demon. Its truncated chimney, sprouts weeds and mutated seedlings that have gained purchase in its decaying seams. Shattered walls that once defied cannon and musket resent the intrusion on their bitter self-pity.
The whole black-hearted house, with its deeper shadows of forever midnight, waits to do you any harm it can. It wishes to lick your face with its stone grain tongue and snap your bones with fingers of rotting oak beam. Any intruder entering rooms now devoid of their doors, is watched and assessed. Broken flagged floors tremble under foot with a rage of damnation. Something watches from the eroded fabric desiring you to linger, to wait till the evening light fades and the old hell can drop its picturesque pretence, showing its true face.
Martin P. Fuller
Martin P. Fuller lives in his shoebox house in West Yorkshire. He was in his previous exitances: –
a beer salesman, a pall bearer, a car delivery driver, and oh yes… a police officer for over 34 years.
He started to write in 2013 after attending a creative writing class and since then has become a writing course junkie.
Discovering his dark side, Martin has had a number of stories published in Trembling with Fear and several other anthologies including Deadcades published by Infernal Clock.
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- Unholy Trinity: Firs by Emma K. Leadley - February 7, 2020
- Trembling With Fear 02/02/2020 - February 2, 2020
- Unholy Trinity: Clockwork by Alyson Faye - January 31, 2020
- Trembling With Fear 01/26/2020 - January 26, 2020
- Trembling With Fear 01/19/2020 - January 19, 2020
- Unholy Trinity: Three More Bad Habits by Justin Boote - January 17, 2020