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Big Bang Theory
by Ian Curtress

We have had lots of fireworks at the bottom of the garden before, it was always great fun. We adults are as excited as the little ones, we are all kids at heart wanting to know what was the next one and pretending to be frightened by the loud bangs.
But it was on the last big rocket, always finished with a big rocket, that it happened
It was all open farmland behind the house looking up to the Cotswold Way and when the rocket ignited with a bang much louder than expected a figure appeared in the flash.
Someone in the party gave a muffled shout and as the light from the firework faded, so did the figure
My first reaction was that a farm worker had somehow crept along the wire fence, but dismissed that as we would have seen him in the bonfire light, also he was dressed In smart country style.
Just one of the children asked who was that man. No one answered.
Everyone was rather subdued as we dampened the embers and went inside to have jacket potatoes.
We discussed what we had seen, or thought we had seen. A well dressed country figure with a frightened expression.
We finished off the evening with a small celebration drink but the usual good humoured banter was missing.
After a while this faded from our memories until six or seven months later an application was made to build a cottage about eighty yards from my boundary.
This I thought would be immediately rejected as this is AONB and building is forbidden.
However, it seems there had been a cottage there in the distant past and the application had to be considered.
All this brought about interest in the past and the cottage by a local historian.
Eventually, old documents were found which told a strange and sad story.
The cottage had been occupied by a game keeper and his elderly Mother.
He had to visit Oxford once a month staying overnight and as there had been many robberies in the area of late he rigged up a hidden shot gun (behind my boundary)? and carried a trip line into their cottage.
If his Mother heard noises she could pull the wire and it would fire the shotgun and scare away any potential intruders.
On this particular occasion he had gone into Cheltenham to take the coach to Oxford late afternoon and waited in the local alehouse where he met farming friends who had been to the market.
Well they got a little merry and he missed his coach so had no option but to return home.
It was dark now but he knew all the rough paths so had no problem in finding his way and when he came to his gun trap he bent to check it had not been disturbed.
His Mother awoke upon hearing twigs cracking under someone’s footsteps so quickly pulled the trip wire setting off the gun. All went very quiet after that and she returned to bed.
Early in the morning she looked out and saw what appeared to her worn eyes was a pile of clothes near the trap. She wrapped her heavy shawl around her and went to check.
She was found the following day. Frozen with her sons head wrapped in her shawl in her lap.
The cottage was pulled down shortly after and for while locals put flowers where it had been but now there was little sign of anything having been there.
The application was withdrawn and the applicant put just a small remembrance stone on the proposed site.
There appears to be a story that if once more a shot is heard where the trap had been they would both find lasting peace.
I am not a believer in the supernatural….. but the trap had been near my boundary…..that rocket had been louder than any of the others…… there had been a figure…….