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#shortstory It was a dark, stormy, moonless night . . .

February 15, 2013

It was a dark, stormy, moonless night. The man stepped out of the church which stood at the end of the forest path. The church stood behind the man . . . dark and silent. It was an old Franciscan church built in 1320 and deserted by the end of World War One. The man walked into the graveyard, his hands in his jean pockets. The rain fell across the full forest landscape drenching the ground as well as the man’s cycle which was standing within the graveyard. The man’s name was Jerome.

He had never seen a night like this before. As he passed a few lonely tombstones he neared his bike parked to an old mossy gate. He was drenched from head to toe. The night air was nippy and darkness was working up his mind. He got upon his cycle and rode out of the graveyard. But, the moment he started to ride across the forest path he had an unearthly feeling that he was being followed. His trainers pumped the cycle to a fast pace. His breathing got heavier. His body felt tight and his wet clothes were chilling his bones. Suddenly, he stopped and looked up. There stood a pale looking creature upon the old oak tree.

“Who is that?” gasped Jerome, terrified . . . but there was no answer and all of a sudden the pale creature vanished and his ears caught the ascending sound of a woman’s wail. He gripped his bike. A chilling silence followed another ascending wail. Jerome picked up courage and got onto his bike and started to race out of the forest. The wail grew wilder and the sound started to ring in his ears like a gong. As he rode out of the mossy forest, he heaved a sigh of relief. He looked around; there up ahead stood his mother’s bike—his mother looking on at him.

Jerome leaped for joy as he pedalled towards his mother. “Where were you?” inquired his chubby mother calmly. “Never mind” retorted Jerome. “Let’s just get out of here.” And they both rode down the highway.  His mother was an overweight middle-aged woman but could ride a cycle like a professional. Jerome was still ill at ease; the sound of the woman’s wail was still ringing in his ears. The rain suddenly ceased. Jerome’s mother sighed with relief: “At last that is over.” “Yeah that’s for sure,” piped in Jerome gleefully as if to say he had a new lease of life, when suddenly his ‘pager’ beeped.  He brought his bike to a halt to take a look at the message—he was horrified: “WHERE ARE YOU SON?” The  message was from his Mother. Then . . . then who is ‘this’ with me, thought the pale looking Jerome, clutching his bike handle. But his ‘mother’ sped on and suddenly a wail leaped from her, a morbid stench of the dead filled the atmosphere. Jerome’s nostrils were filled with the horrible stench and a tear rolled down the scared man’s cheek. “No-no,” he moaned in fear getting on his bike and speeding off in the opposite direction . . . back to the forest. His muscles were tense; his whole chest heaved heavily. But the wail did not cease. As he drove faster the wail became shriller. Jerome pedalled himself back to the forest where he rode all the way to the church and dropping his bike ducked into the mossy structure.

The wailing had stopped. Jerome kneeled before the statue of the Holy Mother. His breathing was heavier and his manly structure was reduced to a trembling wreck.  His pale blue eyes darted around the full church from the altar to the dusty chairs—no one— he was safe—he was okay.  But the incident was lingering and the empty church was playing tricks with his mind.  The scuttle of a lizard or the rustle of dried up leaves within the old abandoned church was making him apprehensive.  “Who’s that?” he  yelled clutching his throbbing heart.  “What was that there,” he cried aloud thus bringing a little life into the old structure.  His lips were trembling and the dampness was making him insane.  He was reduced to a mere animal in a trap and all he wanted was to get out of this mess; but what could he do?  If he didn’t stay here well then—neither could he go back on the highway, where that—that  ‘thing’ was.  Jerome gripped his wet shirt and moaned in pain and fear.

Suddenly there was another sound . . . a  clanking sound. Jerome alerted himself like a mole rat; he burst out of the church and moved closer to his bike.  The clanking sound was getting louder and so was the sound of his breathing. The rain started to fall again, sending chills up and down his spine.  Cupping his ears he strained to hear the sound against the pouring rain. He heard it. It was coming from the graveyard.  He choked down the lump in his throat and motioned himself towards the graveyard.   Jerome was freezing but the weather was not showing any mercy. His trainers trotted along the marble slab as he moved ahead.  Tears were rolling down his heavy laden eyes profusely – tears of desolate terror.  The agony that he felt at that moment was unmentionable. He was, for a moment, nothing more than a bundle of nerves. He got closer – closer to the sound – closer to the clanking noise – closer to his worst nightmare.  When he turned the corner Jerome freaked right out of his wits.

In front of him stood the person who he thought was his mother  with an unholy expression on her white face clanking bones of a skeleton at a rhythmic pace.  Her eyes were bloodshot and her arms and limbs were covered with the mud of the forest.  Her smile was fiendish as well as her body language.  A maleficent force was surrounding her and that evil power was being felt by Jerome.  He was nearly going to faint from fright, when a wail from the creature in front of him stirred him up.  Her voice was ghastly and her behaviour was demonic.  Jerome knew his end was near.

The rain patted down the earth and Jerome fell down upon the murky ground.  His body was soaked and the skin of his face was yellow due to the loss of blood.  He clutched the mud of the ground as he begged for mercy, but other than an agonizing howl he got nothing. Jerome stopped trembling at last, his heavy breathing ceased and his eyelids closed in exhaustion.  Before he fainted, Jerome only heard one last sound; the sound of his bike—moving away.

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