Mists of Time

As the mists swirled around them they joined hands and staggered forwards....or was it backwards?

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24. Gibbet Hill

Tom led them swiftly up the path away from the clearing. He was determined to put as much distance as he could from the men on horseback. The track wound slowly up the slope towards the top of the hill. If he was right at the top he’d be at Long Lane, or where Long Lane should be he thought. The woods were a lot thicker that he’d remembered on his way down to the site. It was now fully light, and judging by the heat already was going to be an extremely hot day. 

The climb steepened but it wasn’t long before they reached the top. 

‘Can’t we stop for a rest now Tom’, Sarah asked. 

‘Just a short way now and then we’ll stop’ Tom replied still walking quickly towards where Long Lane was. They could make out the edge of the woodland now. Tom suddenly slowed right down. 

‘What’s up ?’ Sinead said from behind him. 

‘just checking that they aren’t any more of those fellows on horses waiting for us, just wait here’ 

The three of them stayed crouched in the undergrowth as Tom crept out into the open.  They watched as he cautiously looked everyway and then stood up. He was gazing into the distance. Mai thought he looked totally bewildered with what he was looking at. 

‘Tom, is it safe?’ Mai called with a hushed voice. 

There was no reply at first and then he turned to them and beckoned them towards him. 

‘You are not going to believe this’ Tom said shaking his head in sheer disbelief.

They came out of the woods towards him and then turned to look in the direction he was looking. 

The scouts were on a track. To the South was the woodland that they’d come out of. To the North there was a bit of moorland that sloped down into the valley. Their eyes followed the track towards the east. To the right of the track were trees. To the left was the open moorland. The valley to the north ran west to east and the track led down towards a few isolated shacks. However the sight that greeted him to the West turned his stomach. He looked up to see a gibbet post on the skyline. Hanging from the gibbet was a rusty metal cage. It wasn’t that that horrified Tom but the picked at skeleton that was inside it. Luckily very little flesh still clung to the white skeleton. Bile rose at the back of his throat as he averted his eyes from the monstrosity.

The three girls all looked up and were horrified by what they saw. Sinead screamed and then leaning over was sick over the ground. Sarah and Mai seemed to be having the reaction. They turned their backs on the gibbet. However they could still see in their minds the rotting skeleton.  

Tom put his arm around Sinead and guided her to the other side of the road, where the gibbet couldn’t be seen and sat down with her at the side of the road. He handed her a tissue. All the colour had drained from her face. She was shaking a little from the shock. Tom looked at the other two. Although they’d been horrified by the sight of the body they were starting to take in their surroundings. Tom stood up with them as they looked down towards the valley.  ‘Where are we?’ Sinead said weakly looking around,’ I don’t recognise this place’ 

‘Don’t you? ‘ Sarah asked looking at her and then towards Tom. 

‘I think this is the top of Long lane where we were dropped off yesterday’ Tom said nodding towards Sarah 

‘I was thinking the same’, Sarah said. 

‘It can’t be’ Sinead said, ‘where’s the steel works, where’s Stockby. There’s no Dam.’ 

What Sinead said was right. Stockby and the Steel works weren’t there. There was loads more trees, in fact the opposite side of the valley was full of them. The power stations that were usually seen on the horizons had totally disappeared. 

‘Who were those men? They were like someone from the Middle Ages, you know Knights of the Round Table and that sort’ Sarah said 

Tom nodded 

‘Yes the two men in the clearing didn’t look as though they were from our era too, it’s as though.....’ Tom hesitated and Sarah finished what was slowly dawning on all of them 

‘...we’re in the past’ 

‘I’m going to ring my mum,’ Sinead said pulling out her phone, ‘she’ll come and pick us up and take us home’ 

She picked the phone out of her pocket and unlocked the screen, pressing  a button she put the phone to her ear. 

‘It’s not ringing,’ she said and pressed a button and put it to her ear. She shook the phone as to try and make it work. 

‘Let me look’ Tom said 

He looked at the phone. He was surprised to see a picture of Sinead on the wallpaper at the back. He looked at her quizzically. Then he looked at the top. It was showing no signal. He gave her the phone back and she immediately started to try and ring her mum again. He took his own phone out. The screen told him that his had no service as well. Usually around these parts you could get a decent signal especially right here overlooking the valley. 

‘’No signal here as well’ Sarah said holding Paul’s phone up. 

‘Well if we’re where we think we are, then the phones aren’t going to work at all are they ?’ Mai said. 

‘That’s right, but we could also just be in a place where the signal isn’t strong, couldn’t we’ Sarah said. 

‘That is more probable,’ Tom said. In which case we need to find the nearest town and ask where we are. 

‘Don’t look around now’ Mai said’ but I think there’s someone in the woods behind us’ 

When someone says don’t look round, it’s natural for everyone to forget the first word and do the opposite of what’s asked. They all turned around and looked into the bushes. Try as they may, they couldn’t see anyone. 

‘Guys I told you not to look’ Mai said shaking her head, ‘ he’s gone now’ 

‘Gone....he... who was there ?’ Tom asked still looking. 

‘Look just turn back to me and I’ve a feeling he’ll come back’ 

They all turned around to face Mai again. 

‘What did you see, Mai’ Sinead asked. She looked worried. Things had happened so fast in the last couple of hours. She’d woken up cuddled up to Sarah, she’d thought it was a dream at first. Then they’d been the unfamiliar wood. The two men that were in the clearing where they had been camping, then those knights or whatever they had been, the rush up the hill and now her phone not working. She was beginning to freak out. She’d heard what the others had said about being at the Top of Long Lane and she could see why they thought that. Now there was a figure in the woods watching them, what next, she clutched hold of Sarah’s arm tighter. 

‘I noticed something whilst we were rushing up the track. I thought I saw movement. I looked and saw eyes, or I thought I did. I sort of kept looking and then I saw the figure again. It’s a boy, about 10 or 11 I’d say, quite small with blondish hair. 

‘Thank god for that,’ Sinead said, ‘I thought you meant one of those men had followed us, I don’t want to end up like him over there’ She indicated to the gibbet although she never turned to face it. 

 

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