After being rescued from near drowning by his close friend Phil, Mark had to take some time off from his work to get his nerves calmed down.
“Can you put calls on hold for me?” he asked Phil.
“How long do you think you might need?” Phil asked.
“I don’t think more than two weeks, thanks.”
“Ok, mate, consider it done.”
“Thanks,” said Mark.
Mark, along with his girlfriend Annette took a few days away from their house. They decided to go for a break to a little B&B in Parleby-on-Sea.
“How did you choose here?” Annette asked.
“Oh yes!” She said, looking over her glasses. “Which scientific method is that?”
“I got the book of maps out. Let it fall open to where it wanted to and then just closed my eyes and wiggled my finger, and where it landed I chose,” he quipped.
“Which well-known theory is that?” she queried with a laugh.
Chuckling, he said. “It is a theory put forward by the joint group of Bang & Hope, love,”
“Oh. That theory, yes, I remember it well.”
Parleby-on-Sea was a good five hours from their home, so they had to set off in Annette’s car early on the Friday afternoon to get there for tea. The drive down was quiet, as the couple were lost in thoughts of how close they were to having a sad ending to the incident at the cove.
At “Parleby Manor,” the guest house looked nice from the outside. Mark had his curiosity piqued by an old drawing in the hall showing Parleby Manor in the 17th century and a smaller house in the far distance, with a strange glow apparently coming from the ground around it.
Annette turned from her talk with Mrs. Chalmers, the owner and manager of the guest house, to see Mark looking intently at the drawing. “Remember, darling, you are here to rest for a few days.”
“I know, love. I was not thinking of doing anything, honestly; it’s just that the drawing is intriguing me.”
She sighed,“Yes, dear.”
“I know what you are thinking. I am going to try to relax. This drawing just pulled me into it.”
“In what way?” Annette asked.
“The way the artist drew the Manor house from such an angle so as to let us see the house in the background as well, when from a little to the left, they would have had a better angle on the Manor house and left the smaller one obscured.”
“I must say, it is an intriguing perspective from an artistic point of view. Almost as if they are saying, “Please, do not forget we are here,” Annette commented.
“Or is the artist saying ‘Remember we are here,’ not with a sad tone, but from a threatening point, bringing the viewers’ eyes from the Manor to the smaller house.
“What do you make of the strange glow?” Mark asked, looking puzzled.
“I want to say marsh gas. Looking at the grounds, it seems boggy but the glow doesn’t touch the ground. It seems to be hovering! Mrs. Chalmers, do you know anything about the drawing or the artist?” Annette enquired.
“Certainly I do, as it has been in the Chalmers family for over 250 years now. The Chalmers family have lived in the area, since the late 1600s. Our family is mentioned in the church records as far back as they go and we had the lands shown in the drawing.”
“We didn’t see a church when we came through the village,” Annette remarked.
“You won’t, miss; it fell to ruins shortly after the drawing was done,” Mrs Chalmers said. “The drawing was done by my great-great-great-great grandfather, Josiah Chalmers, just before he handed over the Manor house to the Porter family as payment for gambling debts his son Jeremiah owed. He added that as long as the Chalmers lived in Parleby-on-Sea, their home would be safe. All that he had left was the small house. As you pointed out, miss, the mist does NOT touch the ground. That is to let the spirits move across to the other side. When the old church fell down, we took over the burial of the bodies, allowing what land we had left to be used as the graveyard. The mists are the spirits of our ancestors protecting the righteous as they lie there.”
“Why did the church fall down?” Mark asked. “Did people move away from the area or go to another?”
“No, sir, nothing as civilised as that. Old man Porter hated the church and he thought they were all after his money. He had more than enough, to save the church and not miss the money. Yet, he let it fall into ruin. The village was pleading for his help. He turned them down, and the church fell into ruin. Have you seen the face at the window in the drawing yet?”
Mark looked again at the drawing, “Sorry, I can’t see one,” he said.
“Top left, on the third floor. If you look hard and careful, you will see him there.”
Mark looked hard, and there was the face, just as she said “Yes. I can see now. Who is it?”
“It is a double drawing, from one angle you see Johanus Porter. From another his son Patrick, the last of the Porter family.”
“What happened there?” Annette asked.
“Just before the drawing was done, the town’s people got together in anger and went to the manor house. They boarded all windows and doors on the ground floor, then set fire to the building.”
“Did they know if there was anyone inside the house?”
“Oh yes, miss! They saw Patrick as he went in. None of the people around here would have anything to do with the family after they let the church fall down. We are all God-fearing fisher folk around these parts.”
“Where did you go to pray, when the church fell down?” Mark asked.
“The folks managed to break into a small outhouse a few years later. They found bags of coins, which they used to pay builders to put up a small church in Point Morton for the village. Any left over were given back to the village for upkeep of the church. They also built my family a small house on the outskirts of the village.”
“Is that the new museum building we saw being renovated as we came into the village?” Mark asked.
“Yes, that is the one.”
“If you’re a member of the family, where do you live now you don’t have the house?” Annette queried.
“For the past 25 years, this has been my home,” Mrs. Chalmers said as she looked around at the guest house. “Soon I feel I shall be joining my ancestors though, these bones are not coping with the weariness now. That is why I gave the house to the village.”
“So, please tell me,” Mark enquired, “was I right about the positioning of the artist and why he put your house in?”
“Sorry to disappoint you, sir, but no, you were totally wrong. He put it in just so the Chalmers would have a little reminder that we were once wealthy, that is all. No more, no less.”
Annette asked her, “Your name is Chalmers with an L. Is that a modern variation?”
“I know what you could be thinking, miss, our name could be with an R and hinting at old ways. We have for always had the L in our names.”
“I was just curious.” Annette said, slightly blushing. “I am a painter of spirits and meant no harm.”
“That is all right, miss, we get asked that a lot. I took no offence.”
Mark and Annette spent a pleasant weekend in Parleby, with the freshness of the sea blowing through them as they walked along the beach and over the headlands. In the late evening, Mrs. Chalmers would tell them various tales, from family history to folk lore, all with such enthusiasm, you were never in doubt that she loved to tell what had gone before.
On the Monday morning, they wished Mrs. Chalmers farewell and thanked her for being such a delightful and informative hostess. They had the feeling she would not see another season and was so glad to tell her story. As they left Parleby, Mark and Annette stopped at the museum. Here they spent a pleasing couple of hours going over the exhibits and were just about to leave when Mark said “I think we should come back one day. Looks good for both researching and for lost souls, as there is a rocky outcrop to the north. Interesting to see if we can find anything.”
“I agree but for now, we need to get back home. Phil might be getting concerned about our extended leave.” Annette reminded him.
“You’re right, but we will see if we can arrange a trip back next summer maybe.”
“I think about 12th of June could be a good time!” Annette said with a smirk on her face and a wicked smile.
“Ok! I give in, why such a precise timing?”
“I saw in the library, they are having a large spiritual meeting here that week and I wish to go.
As they drove out of Parleby, they passed the ruined Manor and the sight of the deaths. Mark thought to himself, “Yes! We shall return.” The drive back to the house was far more relaxed than when they left, and although only a few days had passed, Mark felt totally at peace.
Three days later, they were sitting at the kitchen table. All was calm and quiet in the house. Then the phone rang. Mark answered, “Hi, Phil. What can we do for you?”
Phil on the other end was less cheerful “Hi, Mark. Someone woke up chirpy today. Hate to burst your bubble, my friend, but…”
“What’s on your mind, what’s your problem?”
“From the top, Mark, yesterday evening I had a call from Lady Heather Meldrose.” Phil paused to see if the name had registered with Mark. Then he got his answer.
“Up at North Moor?”
“Yes! I explained about your fears of what happened and the nightmares and almost losing you last week. She said she understood if you did not want to take it on, but felt as you had experienced it, you were the best for the job. “Again he paused, letting his friend consider all that was going on, and what it meant or what might happen.
“I am not saying I can do it, Phil, and I am not saying I can’t either at this stage. Just give me an idea, of what is happening.”
“She phoned to say the entity was seeping through the seals you placed. Parts of the floor around the door and stairs were slowly appearing to vanish, if not go completely into a state of flux. Nobody feels safe in the house now.”
“How bad is it?”
“She said that at least half of the upper floor was in the flux, and it is creeping across the landing to get the rest of it.”
“We will have to move fast if it has spread that far, this quickly.”
“Are you doing the job, Mark?”
“Have you thought about what happened the last time? And how you almost didn’t get out of there?”
“Yes! But if I don’t do this, Lady Heather will just get someone who has no idea what they are up against and will probably make a botch up. Then I will have even more mess to clear up. Besides as she said, ‘I am the best man for the job!’ This time, I am not going in blind. I have prior knowledge and a new weapon in Annette. She can show me what it looks like, and then I can make plans for an attack. Also, as we have the spiritual connection now, she is not only my guide, but my armour. You had better phone her ladyship, and tell her we are on the way.”
After putting the phone down, Mark called out to Annette. “Hi, love, do you fancy a trip out to North Moor?”
Annette came slowly down the stairs, looking frightened. “This is the same North Moor that almost cost you your life, am I right?”
“Yes,” Mark said pensively.
“Why are you going back there? Surely the last time was bad enough, love.”
“Phil phoned. Lady Meldrose is scared her house is vanishing. The essence is seeping out.”
“This involves you, because...”
“She knows I am the only person who can really understand how it works.”
“I don’t suppose there is a chance, you will not do it.”
“Sorry, but it has to be me. Nobody else will understand what happened, and then they will cause a bigger problem for me to clear up.”
Looking more worried than before, Annette said, “OK, get the things we need and we can start packing the car.”
The drive to North Moor was tense. Neither of them said a word until they were almost there. After an hour Annette pulled the car to a halt at the top of the hill, 500 yards above the house. “Can you get a good view from here?” Mark asked Annette.
“Yes, thanks, we can go closer if you want to.”
“No, this is fine. I would rather you didn’t get too close. You get a good all-around view. You can see what is going on outside the house in case things go haywire.”
“Are you expecting things to go wrong?”
“I always do, and I know partially what I am fighting this time. I don’t expect anything less than a fight to the death.
“There is only going to be one winner, and my money is on you!”
“This time it is us against it, and my money is on us.” Mark quipped.
“We need to be sure of some things at this point. I am your guide and you need to trust me. You will be misled in there. What you see may well be an illusion or things could be moved to give you a false direction. From here I can see what is real and my spirit will talk you through, trust us.”
“After our visit with the snake head a few weeks ago, love, I have no issues with that. What do you see?” Mark asked Annette.
“The entity has its power source near the cave you entered last time you were here, which is why the images were so clear and strong for you. There is a trail leading from the cave entrance to the back gate and from there, it goes to the roof, clinging to the window frames.”
“Can you see what I will be fighting?”
“If you mean shapes and dimensions, yes, that is something I can help with.”
“How about whether it is solid, gelatinous or insubstantial?”
“That will take a deep search by my guide. We will give you all we can.”
“Thanks. I know you will do what you can to win, love,” Mark replied as he kissed Annette.
As they looked at the house, the walls appeared to wobble and move. “Did I see, what I thought I saw?” Mark said, terror showing in his voice.
“Yes, I am afraid you did. It is surging and pulsing at such a pitch now that it is now bending time and space. Power is time itself. You have to go in and you must stop it now. At all times, trust what the voice says, not what your eyes show you. You know it feeds on your fears and it knows you are scared of it, but does not know of us and that is our strength. Your best entry is the coal tunnel, as it is going down and the entity goes up. This will give us time to link up for the battle.”
“Right, here I go! See you on the other side. One way or another.”
“Please! Don’t say that, love, I don’t want to think of you not coming back to me.”
As Mark walked down the road, all his fears of the past weeks were flooding back. The cave, the missing room, the watery grave. And here he was going into the mouth of who knows what. Mark reached the gate with no problems. Stopping for a short break, heart pounding with adrenaline for the fight ahead, but a healthy share of fear as well, he looked around.
The walls had now lost all form and were just a brown goo. What held them together, he dreaded to think. “Right, Mark!” he said to himself. “Nobody would blame you for backing out. They know what it did to you last time, and how long it took you to get over it. So, no pressures there, but if you did, and someone made a bigger screw up, you would have twice as much to clear up.”
Into the valley of death. Mark jumped down the chute, landing in a coal heap, covered in webs and spiders. As he climbed the stairs, he heard a voice telling him: “Go to the second door on the right.” Following instructions he went to the door and opened it. This brought him to a section of the ground floor, where there seemed to be snakes crawling all over everything. "Walk across the hall, to the third room on the left!” Walking across the floor, Mark was sure he felt the snakes on his legs, but knew this was what he was supposed to be feeling, not what he was feeling.
When he got to the doorway, the knob moved before he could touch it. This so startled Mark that he almost forgot where he was. Opening the door, Mark found he was in the old armoury, looking around, trying to find a weapon. He heard the voice. “Take the mace, barbell and grappling hook!”
Picking the weapons as instructed, he could see the logic in the choices. The mace is a large heavy weapon, a long stick, with a spiked ball and chain attached. The barbell is a medieval weapon of immense cruelty, a pole with a large iron ball full of spikes. And the hook was just a rope with a nasty iron trident attached to it. All were weapons designed for maximum damage, ripping rather than cutting. The idea to cause as much constant damage was now clear to Mark, and he started to form a battle plan. He now knew the essence had felt his presence and was looking for him.
Leaving the armoury, Mark walked back down the passage. From all directions he could feel the evil closing in on him, trying to break the link with Annette. Their spiritual link was as strong as their love and the more it fought them, the stronger they were getting. The entity knew it could not withdraw from the battle, yet it was feeling weaker all the time.
About a hundred feet down the hall, Mark came to a branch. “Go left, but beware that around the corner is your first battle!” Without missing a step, he turned left and met a mass of heads and arms, all screaming at him with such noise thinking became almost impossible, so he let his reactions take over. With the mace swinging to and fro as he progressed through the melee, he could hear a wail. The entity was being attacked and starting to weaken. Near the end of the fight, the voice said, “When you get to the door at the end, bury the mace in the wood. All the ooze will trap this section here!” With the mace slashing through, he got to the door, dashed through and buried the ball so deep in the wood, only half was showing. The essence was trying everything it knew, bending floors, turning straight corridors into mazes, making up appear down, and through all this, Mark dashed up the stairs and followed his guide.
Reaching the second floor with barely enough breath, Mark could see that things below were rapidly changing shape and form. It appeared the entity was losing its grip on the house, whilst trying to heal and restore its own energy. “Dash up the flight to your right, and start the next attack as you hit the last step. Your momentum will carry you most of the way from there!” Rushing the stairs, Mark got the barbell out. He was swinging and prodding as instructed, when two steps from the top he was attacked by a series of barbed spikes, each doing little damage as his speed was such they never had time to come into real contact. Turning, slashing, and prodding, he was almost through the fight when the voice said. “This time, you have to stick the barbell across the stairs; this will achieve the same results as before!”
At the top of the next flight of stairs, he found there was a series of holes in the side panels, as if this had been done before. He jammed the barbell in hard, listening for the cries as the entity was again losing its power to maintain its hold. The voice changed to that of Annette’s. “Mark, this is where you need to believe in us, not what you see below you. Below, it is not physical; that was the point of cutting its sources as you came up. Now you have to throw your hook, as high as you can, hang on for life, and let your body act as a pendulum as you tear it apart. Remember, no matter what you think you see, hear or feel, it is not real. See you soon, love.”
From his position Mark was about twenty feet from a ledge. The essence was beginning to slip. With one massive effort he flung the hook, hoping it would catch. As it passed through the weakened essence, he heard it clink and jumped down.
To Mark, it appeared hell had been awakened: demons and hell hounds were chasing him every foot. Yet the further down he went, the further back they were until the rope went slack. He landed feet first on the hall floor, turning to see where he was. Walls and floors were re-emerging; the essence was evaporating into the air.
As Mark walked back up the path, he passed Lady Heather. Through tears of joy she said, “How can we ever pay you for what you did, Mark?”
“All the fighting and running has given me an appetite. Can you get cook do a good hearty stew, please, for me and my friend? Without her help, we would never have stood a chance today!”
“We didn’t see anyone!”
“That was the plan. If she was out of sight, the essence could not use thoughts of her against me in the battle and confuse what we had planned.” Mark walked up the hill to Annette’s car and opened the door, sat in the passenger seat and leant over and hugged Annette.
“Thanks for all your help, love, without you and your guide, I would not have been able to come back. Never mind my sitting here cuddling you.” He leant in and kissed her softly and tenderly.
Then said “They are doing us a stew in the house now, so we can have a wash and rest, and enjoy a hearty meal with peace of mind.”
“Talking of peace of mind, how are you feeling?”
“Shaky, scared. I know the fear will always be there. For now it’s well hidden, darling, and I know I don’t have to face it alone again.”
“Mark, you have lived in the area for a long time, haven’t you?”
"Yes, love, I spent most of my early days around here. Why?”
“I keep getting the name Coddisham in my dreams.”