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Be Thankful for Day Light
Inside the barn
The Oak Tree
A Short Story
Timmy and I
There was a hard frost on the ground on that fateful Sunday morning two years ago, I remember that I could see the cemetery next door to the house; it looked white all over as I viewed the panorama from my vantage point in the back of the disused barn. The limbs from the old oak tree shimmered with silver light and the protruding branches resembled old, gnarled fingers. At the time I didn’t notice the smell of abandoned musty hay or the effluent running down the centre of the barn, along with the slimy remains of the animal carcass left behind. Timmy and I had just been grateful for the security that the barn afforded, as we panicked to find cover from the noise coming from the cemetery next door.
Timmy and I were fourteen years old at the time and so much in love. We had managed to climb out of my bedroom window without my parents knowing. The excitement that we both felt at being naughty and dishonest was such a thrill, two rebels in arms we were, and our destination was the old oak tree above the grave yard. The limbs of the tree where so thick and dense, no one could possibly see you when you sat up inside the middle; the leaves ordained the heavy boughs like angel hair or a spiders web, but didn’t allow the world to know who was captivated within. We had been before, and Timmy had carved my name in the trunk of the tree, “Timmy loves Angie” the words said, and the two of us could lay and experiment in each other’s arms as teenagers do.
It had been a beautiful autumnal day, only a slight hint of cold air as the night was drawing in, and Timmy and I had spent the day with friends over a hamburger in McDonalds.
“The Old Masterson place is haunted, don’t you know that?” Bob always the sensible one, blurted out knocking his orange Fanta sideways. The others fell about laughing at the site of Bob rushing with tissues to catch the bubbling orange flow before it poured off the table and tumbled onto the floor. Splash... splash.
“Come on Timmy have you gone mad, you know we are forbidden to enter that house or the graveyard?” Bob still with concern in his voice grabbed hold of Timmy’s arm. “People have died up there, been seen hanging from that old oak tree and only their remains have been found, like a scarecrow pecked by the crows and their eyes hanging out of their heads.”
Timmy looked on in amusement. “Scary cat, scary cat”, he taunted Bob, “Get a life, that is only folklore to keep us away from the abandoned house,”
“Who is with me, who is brave enough to meet the bogey man?” Timmy asked with his mouth full of hamburger.
No one answered; everybody just glanced in Timmy’s direction because they had all heard the tale’s surrounding the Old Masterson house and the graveyard.
Timmy and I decided to go together; it was an adventure because we had never been to the tree in the dark before. I remember hearing the shrill of a magnificent barn owl, eerily beautiful in the darkness. Our hearts fluttered with anticipation as we climb the tree limb by limb, eventually finding comfort among the middle branches. There we sat and talked and gently kissed each other, exploring each other’s bodies until the early hours of the morning.
Timmy glanced out from our hideaway, “Sush,.... sush” he hissed, pushing me out of view. In the distance the glow became brighter, walking side by side in black robes, the figures began to approach the grave yard. The leader was carrying a lantern which gave off a hue of blue from the candle light. I especially remember that the night was clear with stars shining brightly, affording the procession a soft glow of light to show them the way. The leader was immediately followed by another figure in black, walking with a small white goat on a lead, bleating anxiously. Following behind them, but restrained by two other figures, was a naked girl; wearing only a hood over her head to cover her modesty and the smell of incense hung heavily on the air. We could faintly hear her crying as she stumbled over the grave stones, and watched her try with all her might to break free from her captures.
“You don’t understand,” she screamed, “I am not a virgin, I can’t be your sacrifice, let me go I promise that I won’t tell a soul, please ... oh please let me go,” The two figures standing either side of the young girl were oblivious to her cry’s, and as she stumbled I could see the blood oozing from her leg as she got caught in brambles.
“Get down,” Timmy whispered, “Get down out of the tree, hurry.....come on hurry up.” I could sense the emergency in Timmy’s voice. He was pushing me from above, and all I could do was jump the final few feet landing on a branch and spraining my ankle. I screamed out loud as the pain shot from my ankle into my leg and I held on to Timmy’s arm as if the devil himself was tugging at my leg.
Thankfully we had not been heard, and ran for the cover of the barn, rushing into the bales of hay like a rat being chased by a Jack Russell terrier.We lay covered in the hay watching through the small thin cracks of the timbers, when suddenly the chanting stopped.The procession had stopped at the Masterson family grave, and all but one figured disrobed to stand naked around the grave side. The young girl was being tied to the head stone and was unable to move. Her cry’s weakened as she fought her restraints to get free. Her body racking to draw breath as the small goat was placed in front of her and had its throat cut, and then it was left to die on the ground beside her squirming, desperately trying not to choke from the blood pulsing from its neck. The group writhed and gyrated to the beat of a drum, each one appearing to be in a state of mesmerised hypnosis took it in turns to cover their genitalia with blood from the dying goat. Each male then mounting the restrained female continued to rape her. Her screams carried on the air, almost strangulated in fear, and eventually her body slumped backwards supported only by her restraints.
The one person who had remained clothed took a chalice of goat’s blood, firmly pulling the girl’s head forward before forcing her to drink the dark red steaming fluid. Her stifled gags filled the air as every other member took a female companion in a state of abandoned pleasure, squirming and writhing on the floor to the sound of the rising chants from the still clothed leader.
Suddenly, from the grave rose a dark foreboding figure and the air was filled with laughter, gurgling, hideous raucous laughter, and the smell of sulphur took our breath away. Higher and higher the figure raised until eventually the mist cleared to reveal the figure of Jake Masterson. He looked all hunched over, and his facial features were all distorted. The scream that rose in the air was terrifying, gurgled and then silence. Timmy threw himself backwards into the hay; his eyes mounted as if on organ stops were full of fear. He had just witnessed the young girl’s throat being cut and her writhing body being consumed by the vision of Jake Masterson. The sound of breaking bones and the slurping of blood along with the intoxicated screams from the on lookers froze Timmy and me to the spot. Alarmingly, I looked down and realised that I had peed my pants with sheer terror.
I couldn’t remember how long Timmy and I sat in that barn hardly bearing to breath, huddled together like two lambs to the slaughter; the heavy smell of blood in the air and the sound of the chanting in our ears. We lay motionless, bound together in our terrified embrace, until the realisation of the cold struck through our bones and forced us to wake up.
In the daylight, we could see nothing of the remains of the young girl, or the goat and the scene in front of us was as if no one had been there, totally in peace and uninterrupted. The only thing that could remind us of what we had seen was the remains of a previous animal carcass, a goat, lying on the floor of the barn. Its skeletal form and decaying matter left to mingle with the rotting hay.