Secret - 'Everybody's Got To Die Sometime'

October 1962

The World hangs on the precipice of annihilation. Russian weapons on discovered on Cuban soil. The world holds it's breath as the United States squares up to Russia. It seems we are only seconds away from destruction.

Meanwhile in North Yorkshire, Tom and his Dad are facing life without Toms mother. Meanwhile the new early warning buildings are rising up from the moors above their home. Do they provide security or threat ? Threats seem to be both near and far and dark days roll across Tom's world. His world has been turned inside out leaving him a short step from disaster.

As Tom's Dad says "Everyones got to die sometime".

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12. Black Dog

October 20th

Whitby

“Come on slow coach,” Lily shouted back to Joyce and I as she reached the top of the Abbey steps. The one hundred and ninety-nine steps certainly took their toll on you, no matter how many times you climbed them.

“I think she’s talking to you Joyce,” I said puffing along just in front of Joyce.

“She certainly likes to rush everywhere doesn’t she. We’ve hardly paused for breath since we got off the bus, I need to rest,” Joyce gasped between breaths.

“You’re getting old,” I joked.

“It’s your birthday on Monday… If you remember mine is not until six days after that as you usually delight in informing me.” She replied haughtily.

I laughed. Stood there with her hands on her sides like a  teapot, she looked stunning. Her hair blowing in the wind, she looked every bit a film star. Was that a new dress she was wearing? I tried to rack my brains to remember, but failed. I know I’d always thought she was like a sister to me but lately I’d been having thoughts about her, like mixed up feeling of love. It was uneasy, yet had occupied my mind for a while. Were we like siblings, just friends or potentially much more? Did she feel the same? Or was I just a friend?

“What are you looking at?” Joyce said cocking her head to one side.

“I don’t know the labels dropped off,” I said shaking my head.

“Oh haha, very funny,” she said, “what were you thinking?”

“Oh nothing,”

“Tell me Hukin… You know what will happen if you don’t”

I laughed nervously.

“Later, lets catch Lily up before Dracula gets her,” I replied streaking off hopeful that she’d drop the subject.

We paid the entry fee at the small hut. The custodian was a gentle sort of man, not officious like some were. Always ready to impart some nugget of fact onto you. It was always a touch of the macabre, some salacious bit of information that brought the ruins to life. Today was no different.

“Be careful in the ruins today. There’s been some weird goings on around here at night.” He half whispered.

“Oooo what?” Lily asked excitedly.

He leant forward as if imparting a secret that no one else should know.

“Well the last few nights there’s been a light shining out from the top of one of the towers of the ruin. When the police came to investigate, all they found was a rope lying on the ground. That wasn’t the end of it though. Old Phil, the copper, was half scared to death when a huge black dog appeared out of the inky blackness, brushing against him before disappearing down the steps into the town. T’old vicar found Phil unconscious and looking as white as a sheet and took him back ter vicarage. It took four cups of tea and a couple of whiskeys before he could tell them anything.”

“Wow, was it Dracula?” Lily asked.

“Who knows, little missie,” he said, “rumours are he never left this place, his soul wanders around the abbey at night trying to find a way back.”

Lily stood open mouthed taking in what he said, a little wary now. She looked anxiously at the pillars of the abbey as if wondering if the dog was still there.

“It’s OK Lily,” I said, “there’s no dog in the day. It’s safe.”

She laughed, still a little unsure about going in now.

“Yeah I know,” she said but still stuck close to Joyce and I as we walked away from the entrance.

“What do you think it was?” Joyce said eventually as we wandered up towards the ruins.

“He’d probably had a few drinks and made up the story of the dog to make up for the fact he’d fallen over.”

 Old Phil often patrolled our village and could be seen staggering out of the local pub late at night. A big bloke with a beery reddishness to his cheeks, he was also Billy’s father and when drunk had a temper just like his son. Not a nice person to know.

“Yes you’re probably right, He’s drunk most of the day,” Joyce said, “It’s OK Lily, Tom will stop any dog getting us.”

Lily obviously didn’t pick up the irony in Joyce’s voice. If a huge black dog came at us, I’d be the first to leave. A coward to the last.

The Abbey stood on top of the East Cliff, high above the town and sea. It had been a very important Christian site, but now the ruins belied the obvious grandeur the site once had. You could make out how it must have been. The ceiling must have been high, almost as tall as York Minster. Old grave plots could be seen around the east window. One of them was hollowed out. As little kids, we’d laid in these depressions pretending to be dead. We wandered past the pond and towards the cliff tops. From here you could see down into the harbour, full of little fishing boats, which looked even tinier from up here. We watched as a larger boat negotiated its way through the twin piers of the harbour and out to sea.

 The sea flat and reflecting the rays of the sun glistened looking inviting. A lot different from those angry waves that whipped the sea into a frenzy at times, huge claws of water pawing at the piers trying to reclaim them back. There was a slight haze out towards the horizon, obviously a little foggy out to sea. Maybe it’d come in later and we’d be able to show Lily how spooky Whitby was in the fog.

“What’s that over there?” Lily asked pointing across to the other cliff.

“Oh, it’s the whale bone arch,” Joyce replied, “made from the jaws of a whale that was brought here. Whitby used to be a big whaling town. It’s next to Captain Cooks statue.”

“We did him at school,” Lily said, “he discovered Australia.”

“Well it was there before he discovered it,” I said smiling.

Lily gave me a weird look.

“Well my teacher, Miss Smith, told me he discovered it.”

“Ignore him Lily, he’s just being provocative,” Joyce said laughing, “where do you want to go now?”

She thought for a minute or two.

“Fish and chips!” she shouted, “and chocolate ice cream”

“You’ll be sick,” I said, “come on then, lets head back down the cliff.”

We wandered back through the ruins towards the entrance. Joyce and Lily were chatting away so I slipped down the other side of the wall and ran to the end. I kept out of sight from them and waited behind a wall. I could hear them talking gayly as they approached.

“Woof woof,” I yelled as they drew level, imitating a dog.

Both of them jumped but Lily screamed and moved away from me.

“Idiot,” Joyce said, “Don’t scare us like that.”

Lily cowered away at Joyce’s other side as if unsure of me.

Joyce put her arm around her comforting Lily.

“You’re an idiot Hukin,” Joyce said, “scaring her like that.”

I reddened again, angry at myself that a joke had back fired.

“Sorry Lily, it was just a joke. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“I thought you were going to hit me,” she said between sobs.

“Lily I would never hurt you, I’m not that sort of person”

“They all say that”

“Who does?” I asked, “does your mother and father hit you.”

There was a pause and I saw her eyes darting from side to side.

“No, of course not.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes of course I am, why would they hurt me?”

Even I could tell that she was lying. I exchanged a glance with Joyce. Her head shook as if to say, ‘Don’t push it’

“Sorry Lily. I’ll buy you a double chocolate ice cream to make up for it.”

I followed close behind as we descended the one hundred and ninety-nine steps back into the old town passing tourist puffing their way to the top. Every now and then we caught a whiff of fishy smoke from the kipper smoking sheds to our right. I wondered how her father could hit Lily. It’s something my mum and dad never did, but the look of sheer fear on her face had given it away. How could someone be so callous and uncaring to hurt such a happy young girl.

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