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Friday, 28 October 2016

It Lives

The cavern was old, and so was its inhabitant. It was deep under a mountain crag that was overlooking a wide valley and mountain pass, and upon which men of all ages had built fortresses. First of wood, and then as the centuries passed, of mighty stones. From that great vantage point, a dark kingdom had risen and dominated.

It had defied first the Byzantine Greeks, then later the Latin Crusaders, and finally the Turks .... but eventually after many sieges, the mighty fortress had eventually fallen. Blood had flowed like a mountain stream down the crag, as a mighty Sultan decreed that 'all should die' and that no stone be left standing 'one upon the other'. This, so that no man should remember the darkness of their rule, nor the defiance of its former rulers.

Sultan Mehmed II Ordered Castle Dracul Destroyed ....

Now all that remained of that once great fortress, was a few of those mighty stones on the summit, and a jumble of broken boulders at the foot of the crag .... but the cavern and its secret entrance. Hidden in the fortress floors, it had not been found by the conqueror, and this had offered a final refuge to its former lord. But forever banished was he from his former abode, which stood no more on that towering peak. Trapped he was, by his birth soil locked in that cavern, and soon his name was lost on the winds of time.

*
It had waited the centuries impatiently, then desperately, but always hungrily, growing weaker as the sustenance of rats died way .... for even the rats learnt to avoid the cavern. But still it survived, learning to get faint sustenance from things that almost had no name, but which crawled.


The boy, who walked this path daily in the summer months when he escaped the farm work that would be his lot if he stayed at home, stared down at the hole. It had appeared yesterday after a violent storm the night before had caused rocks to fall from the steep crags above. They had smashed into the hill face, breaking open a long sealed narrow entrance. Even so it was almost invisible unless you were very familiar with how the rock face had looked before.

He was fascinated, as all boys are, at the possibilities that the cave entrance offered. But there was something, just something about the odour coming from the hole that had paused him from entering it the day before.

But he was back again now, and still the hole drew him. Oh it was ink black inside, that was certain, but a wind-up torch was available, and indeed in his rucksack even as he stood looking at the hole. But there was still something which caused his hesitation. If you looked long enough it seemed as though there was something moving in there, and then there was the noise. Even from outside there was a low whispering sound, that seemed to be both near and far from the entrance, and which could be water running, or maybe a draft, but which hinted, almost of a voice speaking, begging pleading ....'give me your soul', it seemed to say.

On an impulse that he could not explain, he threw a lunch time chicken leg into the cave. It was badly thrown and landed partially visible in the entrance. There was a pause, the whispering that had been assailing his ears ceased, and the boy found himself holding his breath. Just as he thought nothing would happen after all, the chicken leg disappeared. It didn't do so quickly, but did so by degrees, fraction by fraction, until it was enveloped in the darkness.

The boy watched this process with both fascination and fear. He walked away when the whispering stated up again, but just a little bit louder than it had been before, as though something was now stronger.

After that he frequently went back to the cave. Never entering, but invariably taking a 'gift' of food. At some stage, and he didn't know when or why (but he vaguely thought it was the whispering that started telling him 'it wanted blood'), he took raw meat from his mothers fridge and threw that in to the cave entrance. As usual the whispering ceased and then resumed, but this time it was jubilant and so much louder 'At last it cried' and he started backwards. The voice, as if aware that it had shown him too much, immediately dropped back down to its usual faint hissing whispering, and the boy slowly calmed.

Not once during the weeks that followed could the boy entice the thing .... he had no name for it, or if he did, it was a name that could not be said out loud, even to himself ... to show itself out in the open. He sometimes threw the offering far short of the entrance. In which case the whispering would sound angry and cursing, but 'it' would not come into the light, and the meat would just lay there.

The boy wouldn't or couldn't approach any closer to pick up the meat again, so there it would lay between them, and eventually, when the cursing sounds got to much to bear, or the afternoon lengthened, he would leave.

When he returned the next day the meat would always be gone.

Perhaps that would have been the end of the matter, as the boy was young, and the summer holiday doesn't last forever, but towards the end of August, the boy went to the cave later than usual. The sun was setting and the sky was turning red, and now the whispering, which had always been only understood as if a distant thought, was clear, if he strained his ears ..... 'Where have you been, where is my food, I want blood .... Give me your soul' it seemed to say. The boy, who had stolen a red and bloody pigs liver from the fridge, spoke to it for the first time.  

"Who are you?" he cried...

'A friend' was the reply that entered his mind and his ears .....

The boy threw the red meat to the ground outside the cave .... but this time instead of the curses, the voice wailed 'more blood, he's bought blood' .... and suddenly and swiftly, a white clawed hand shot out and grabbed the offering. The boy, now fearful of what was in the cave, and the fact that the last rays of the sun had gone down, and twilights gloom had descended, turned to run. He didn't quite know what had been controlling him, but it was if a veil had been lifted, and now fear was racing through his beating heart. As he turned his head away to flee, he vaguely saw a dark figure emerge at great speed from the cavern, red and raw around its bloody mouth.

A Dark Figure Red And Raw Around Its Bloody Mouth

* 

They found the boys body the next day .... it was alabaster white, and the coroner later reported it as being drained of all blood, with some unexplained deep scrape or bite marks around the neck and throat, which he believed could have been caused by an animal in the night. There was another oddity that the investigating police officer noted in the report.

Although the soil around the body was clear of vegetation, the only footsteps visible were the boys himself, which were crisp in the soft wet ground. It was though the boy had walked to the spot, and just keeled over and died. The police officer, not a local man, made no special mention of the narrow dark cave entrance about 20 yards away. Indeed he may not even have noticed it.

After the coroner gave an open verdict, and the local press had lost interest, a deputation of grim faced local men (who had long folk memories), gathered one bright morning, and made their way to the spot where the boy died. There they quickly located the entrance to the cave, and with crowbars and hard work, they tore large boulders and stones over the entrance, so that it would never be visible again. Only as the last tiny opening was sealed, did they think to hear a soundless cry of rage and hatred on the wind.

Even now wandering tourists will walk to the ruins on the top of the mighty crag along the single track ... mostly for the magnificent views of the valley below. There is little else to observe except the fallen stones, and a small battered bronzed plate sign. If they chose to read it they would find, in half a dozen local Balkan languages, and English (for the tourists), the information that ....

'Here are the ruins of Castle Dracul, the last fortress of Vlad III, of the the House of Drăculești, and Prince of Wallachia, which was destroyed in 1477 on the orders of Sultan Mehmed II. He ordered that no stone be left one on top of the other, to remove from history for all time the memory of what had once lived here. The body of Vlad III was never found when the Turks stormed the fortress, and it is presumed that he was killed in the final bloody fighting, as he was never seen again.'

After the world 'again' someone in the past has scratched the word 'alive'.

Copyright © No PC Views 2016. All rights reserved. 

2 comments:

  1. Good Halloween post. Enjoyed it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. Fancied a change of style.

      Delete

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