Mists of Time

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

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18. Stories around the Fire

Sarah quickly told them the story that Professor Juniper had told them the other night. All about the men who had been killed around here during medieval times. She was a good storyteller and embellished the story with her usual vigour. She wrote stories sometimes and enjoyed keeping an audience hooked.

Tom looked around the group as they sat around the fire. They were all digesting the story that Sarah had told them. Something about the story had them on edge, as though the action had happened right in front of them. Paul and Terry were unusually quiet. The girls were lost in thought. 

‘Have you heard about all the ghosts on the bypass?’ Tom said. 

The bypass that ran on the hill above Stockby was known for its ghosts. The stories had started when the bypass was being built. Even policemen are said to have had ghostly sightings. The security guards had refused to patrol parts of it when it was under construction.  

They all nodded apart from Mai. 

I don’t know it all, just strange tales of monks and kids’ Mai stated, ‘tell me the rest’ 

Tom hesitated looking across at Sarah. Sarah shrugged as if to say, you tell it. 

‘Well, you know that Stockby is built on it’s steel industry?’ 

Mai nodded. 

‘Well on the opposite side of the valley, there were many small mines that used to provide iron and coal, this was way before Badger set up here. There were a few people making a living out of small scale production of pig iron. Well these mines were often nothing more than a hole in the hill. They weren’t very safe and there were many accidents. Back then it might be a family who had a mine. The older members of the family would mine the coal or iron and the children would help by pulling carts to the surface.’ 

He looked up from the fire to see them all listening to him and waiting for the next bit 

‘Well, as I said, there were many accidents and roof collapse. The hillside is still unsteady and holes often appear where the mine shafts were. Anyway there was one particular mine that collapsed and 6 people were killed, two men and four children. The only one who survived was the mother. They say that when it’s full moon the children can be seen dancing around in a circle.’ 

After a moment, Mai said ‘and what about the monk?’ 

‘Ah the famous monk’ Tom said ‘well that’s quite easy. A hooded figure is often seen on the bypass. Some people even say that when they’ve been driving along the bypass, the air in their car goes cold and they see a hooded figure in the back of the car. When they stop, the figure’s not there.’ 

‘Sounds like a figment of their imagination, if you ask me’ said Paul. 

‘You don’t believe in them do you, Tom, I thought you weren’t the sort of person who’d be taken in by rumours like that’ Terry said. 

‘Didn’t say that I believed in them did I?’ Tom said ‘although it’s quite funny when you think about it, people say they’ve seen them, and they never were reported as seen before the bypass was built. It’s almost as if they disturbed something....’ 

He left the last word hanging in the air. 

The silence was only broken by the crackling of the fire. 

Heard the one about Bob having a chimney fitted in his car’ Terry suddenly said.  

They all burst out laughing. Terry as usual had brought them back from their thoughts with one of his crazy oneliners. 

‘Apparently his dog has to wear a gas mask in the house’ Paul said 

‘He calls it cigarette you know,’Terry replied, ‘apparently he keeps taking it out for a drag’ 

They were all laughing now, the thoughts of ghosts and murders were lost as they all pictured Bob and his dog walking along, Bob puffing away and his dog with the gas mask on. 

‘Come on then, we better turn in and try to get some sleep. 

Tom got up and placed two large logs on the fire. 

‘That should keep the wolves at bay’ he said and then looking at Mai’s face he said,’don’t worry there are no wolves in Britain anymore, only in the zoos, these logs are to keep the fire in all night so we don’t have too much trouble starting it again in the morning’ 

Mai nodded her understanding as Terry said ‘But there may be werewolves’ 

They all groaned which made Terry’s face drop. 

‘Can I borrow your phone Paul? Asked Sarah 

Erm, OK but don’t let the battery run down playing games on it all night’ Paul said passing the iphone across to Sarah. 

‘Thanks, just want to check out one or two things, and I’ve no internet on my phone’ 

‘No problem, just don’t let Terry have it again’  

Look I’m sorry, it just dropped’, Terry said defensively

Tom checked around the campsite before going back to his bivvy. He never slept well on the first night of a camp and having the responsibility of these scouts was quite a daunting task. He lay down and looked at the fire hearing the quiet talking that was going on in the bivvys 

He remembered when he was a cub they never slept at all on the first night. They’d be up all night. Bob and his wife in the caravan would never hear them it was an adventure. Then when he became a scout he and his friends realised that they were so tired the next day that they never enjoyed the activities much. He could see that scouts still went to sleep pretty quick. 

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