by Sandra Crook
meet thy fate, a voice boomed, echoing
around the walls of the ruined monastery, causing
cracks to appear and shards of rock to skitter to
the ground. Immediately, the old bells in the
half derelict tower clanged into life, a dull
The young couple
jumped up, clutching at each other, pale and wide-eyed
as they fumbled to adjust their clothing.
that for Christs sake? gasped Pete.
know, but Im getting the hell out of here,
said Susie, piling cups and plates into the
picnic basket and snatching up the rug on which
theyd been lying.
joke, right? he said, staring around at the
crumbling walls and lichen covered stones.
Did it sound
like a joke? Come on, Im not hanging
around here, I said we shouldnt have picked
this place to
and a clap of thunder rent the air, before she
could complete the sentence. They began to
run and as they did so, the bells began to ring
faster, louder, deeper.
As they stumbled
across the rocks and slabs of stone that littered
the site, the young trees rooted amongst the
ruins began to tremble, their branches dipping
and bowing beneath some unearthly pressure. The
ground began to shake, causing them to stumble as
yelled Pete, snatching the picnic basket out of
Sues arms as he struggled to make himself
heard over the sound of the bells.
go any faster, she said, holding her side,
dont leave me.
He grabbed her
hand, jerking her across the uneven terrain. The
ground dipped slightly down towards a stream, and
wading through this, they scrambled over a fence
and into a pasture where the ground was smoother.
They ran on,
trampling the corn beneath their feet, for
several minutes. Eventually when they realised
that the wind seemed to have abated slightly, and
the ground, though rumbling still, was not
shaking so severely, they paused for breath.
Are we safe?
Sue gasped, trying to catch her breath.
Pete looked around. Whatever
it was, it seems to have been centred around
those ruins. See, its calmer here.
It was indeed. The
bells had ceased to peel and now the birds, which
had ceased singing, began to twitter cautiously.
never going back there, said Sue,
that place must be haunted.
be stupid, Pete said, theres no
such thing as ghosts.
it was God, said Sue, punishing us
for what we were doing.
Pete rolled his
eyes heavenwards. Women and their guilt
Theres nothing wrong with what we were
doing. And theres no such thing as God
believe I heard you say that, said Sue,
snatching her hand out of his.
There was a
rustling sound behind them, and spinning round
they watched in horror as some unseen force cut a
wide, burning swathe through the cornfields,
heading directly for them.
I heard it
too, thundered a voice from the sky.
Believe this. Youre toast now,
And a bell rang,