Aphelion Issue 279, Volume 26
December 2022/January 2023
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A Place with the Trees

by Morgan K. Tanner

I remember the tyres screeching, the engine roaring and a large flash of light, followed by darkness. Although the memory is hazy, the feel of the cold, wet tarmac against my cheek has stayed with me ever since. For a long time afterwards if I closed my eyes all I could see were the headlights and the front grill of the van heading towards me. I had no time to think, I was knocked from my bike before I knew what was happening. As I lay unconscious I could still hear the screams of concern and fear from passers-by. Unable to move, unable to think.

When I awoke in the hospital, despite all the pain medication I was doused up with, the deep aching in my legs was absolute agony. This lasted for weeks. When I was eventually discharged I spent months bed bound and powerless to do anything for myself. How grateful I was that I had Jane to do everything for me, that girl is golden. My broken legs were pinned back into place, with a metal cage preventing any movement at all. How your pride is smashed when you are incapacitated like that and rely on loved ones to wash you, clothe you, entertain you and of course clean up and remove your excrement from the bag, it is almost soul destroying.

But that's how it was, and in a strange way I am almost glad that I had to go through it all, for now the relationship I have with Jane could not be any stronger. We have been through the bad times and now we look forward to the good ones. After over a year we finally got the compensation payment we had been waiting for, allowing us to buy this beautiful country cottage in this quaint little village and move on with our lives. It was Jane who had suggested moving out to the country away from the hustle and bustle of city life, but I knew that her chief motivation was to get me somewhere quiet, so I could ride that bike again one day, without the increased risk of another accident.

We had finished stage one of tidying the boxes away; the mountain of them piled throughout the downstairs of the cottage never seemed to get any smaller. Betty was getting restless so Jane suggested that I take her out for a walk.

"If you're sure babe, we won't be long."

"That's OK Tom, you go and have an explore of the place, it's a lovely day out there, I'll just finish off putting the crockery and glasses away in our new fancy kitchen." As Jane looked at me with her warm brown eyes that smiled at me along with her lips, I silently thanked whoever had blessed me with such an adorable wife and picked up the lead from the kitchen counter.

"Come on then Betty, let's go and see what all the fuss is about then eh?" She danced around at my ankles, yapping with excitement as she saw the lead in my hand. "I've heard the woods are really something."

"Well this village is renowned for them hun, I'm sure you and Betty will have a great time in there. Just no running around and climbing trees OK?" She chuckled as she said this, seeing me reach for my walking stick.

"Yeah OK then, no running, not today anyway." I laughed and attached Betty's lead to her collar then made my way to the front door.

I walked down the garden path, through the flower-decorated archway and met the main road, not that there were many cars passing. In fact the place seemed pretty quiet, almost too quiet for a sunny Friday afternoon. To the right were fields for as far as I could see. The houses and the village green were down the road to the left, behind which, almost appearing to be faraway in the distance loomed the tops of hundreds of oak trees. I paused as I reached the pavement to take it all in and thought that I could hear something behind me, like heavy breathing in my ear. I froze and for a moment and could not find the courage to turn and look. As I turned my head I felt an icy chill down the back of my neck and for a brief moment I was reminded of that van careering towards me all those months ago, but there was nothing to see, just the saplings dotted along the road gently swaying in the breeze, the vision of the van disappeared as quickly as it had arrived. I collected myself and began a slow walk down towards the village green with Betty leading my clicking stick and me.

The road curved round to the left on a small incline past beautiful houses and idyllic lush greenery. There was a claustrophobic look about them, shrubs and bushes stood tall and proud, although it looked as though they would open up a little further ahead and the vast beauty of this place would become apparent. I knew that this village was a very sought-after area so was surprised at the amount of For Sale signs that were erected in the gardens we walked past. I thought back to how lucky we had been to find somewhere here. At the foot of the hill lay a group of shops that all seemed to be shut, but obviously not permanently due to the evident regular upkeep of the frontages. As we reached the end of the road I saw the local pub on the opposite corner and thought to myself that we would be spending some time in there shortly!

We turned right at the end and as we did so the sight of those famous woods hit me, and for a second took my breath away. They oozed strangeness, and as I stared at them I thought to myself that the woods seemed somewhat out of place, almost as though they had been added after the village rather than grown before it. There was a line of old cobbled stones leading up to a church, which had certainly seen better days, and behind that the giant trees swayed gently in the breeze. As we approached the church grounds there was a gate in the fence, the other side of which ran a small path into the imposing woodland. I clicked the latch, opened it and stepped through. As I shut the gate behind me I bent down and unclipped Betty's lead from her collar, expecting her to bound up the path into the dense rows of oak, but the normally full-of-energy Betty didn't want to go any further; she just sat on the ground and started to whimper.

"Come on, girl, what's the matter? You normally love running around, especially in the mud." I turned and walked away from her along the path towards the trees, expecting to hear her come rushing up behind me, but after a few steps I turned again and saw her in exactly the same place, not even the offer of a doggy chew would entice her to follow me. She started to paw at the gate and her whimpering turned into crying. I decided that maybe that was enough for one day; my legs were starting to ache so going home seemed not to be such a bad idea.

As I trudged back towards her I felt something behind me pulling my gaze and almost forcing me to turn around. I reluctantly obliged and that was when I saw the trees looking at me. My eyes were fixated and I halted, staring into the blackness of the woods, where it seemed that nothing lived bar the giant monolithic towers of bark. A dense fog emanated from the ground and blocked my senses, yet I heard the nothingness speak to me. I felt my fingers claw and a chill shoot right through my body as I tried to turn and run away, but something was stopping me.

Betty yelped and I twitched my head and gasped. The church bells were chiming and the sun suddenly brightened the air from behind a dark cloud, and as I walked to put her lead back on I heard a voice from the other side of the fence.

"Hi there neighbour, I see you're on a walk in the woods, fine day for it wouldn't you say? I'm Brian Michaelson, I live a few doors down from you, welcome to the village. It's Tom isn't it?"

"Err, yeah that's right, Tomas White. How did you know that?"

"Oh Tom, everyone knows everyone here, a real tight-knit community this one, I'm sure you'll fit in just fine." We shook hands over the fence; Michaelson's handshake had been a little softer than I had expected it to be, judging by the size of him.

"Well it doesn't look like we will be going on a walk in the woods after all. Betty here seems scared of the place. It's really strange, I don't think I've ever known her to be scared of anything before, she's a bit like me in that respect." Michaelson seemed to find this rather funny and chuckled.

"Oh I'm sure that it's all just new to her and she needs a bit of time to get used to her new home. These woods are a pleasure to behold and we all here enjoy them, they really are the centrepiece of this community and a part of us all. Betty will grow to love them too, as of course you certainly will." This last syllable seemed to be held longer than seemed necessary, and this new neighbour stared somewhat menacingly at me while I tried to shield the glare of the sun from my eyes with my hand. Betty barked for the first time since passing through the gate, and it was directed at Michaelson. "Well I'd better leave you to your walk, wherever it may take you. I'm sure we will run into one another quite often, everyone does here you see? Good day." Betty barked at him again as he turned and walked away.

"Come on then girl let's get you home to mommy." I led her back onto the main path where Betty became more like her normal self once again. I tried to recollect what I saw in those woods, but the thoughts made my brain hurt, like it was unable to process them, and the thought was dismissed by my conscience, but unfortunately those woods would never let me forget. A couple of cars drove past us on our walk back home and both vehicles hooted their horns and shouted to me, but the strange thing was that they shouted exactly the same thing- 'Hello Tom, welcome to the village, I hope you and Jane will be very happy here.' I couldn't wait to get home.

"Well I've just had a rather interesting visitor." The kettle was boiling as I was removing my boots, Jane was telling me about another neighbour she had just met. "Mrs Caulfield she said her name was, she lives," Jane shrugged, "I don't know, over there somewhere," and she waved a hand vaguely in the direction of the woods. "She came round not long after you had left, I hate to admit it but she woke me up from a little snooze I was having on the sofa."

"Well I'm sure you're entitled to relax for a while darling, the amount you've done here today, and not just today, for everything you've done for me. I'm so lucky to have you."

"Oh Tom, don't be silly, I love you." And she gave me that warm smile once again. "But it was quite strange when she came round, I thought it was probably because I'd just woken up but as I was making my way to answer the door, her silhouette through the glass looked rather odd. I could have sworn that I would be opening the door to a tall muscular man, but instead as I pulled it open there was this small, frail-looking old lady." I frowned in thought. "And when she introduced herself there was something, I don't know, something off with her. OK she was being friendly and asking how the move went and everything, but I got a real unnerving feeling talking to her."

"How do you mean babe?" My mind flashed back to my own encounter with one of the locals.

"Well she seemed to want to know everything about us. Not in the usual I'm glad to have met you and would like to know more about you kind of way, it was like she was really trying to remember everything I said. It sounds a bit silly really I suppose, there was just something really strange about her."

"It doesn't sound silly, what did you say?"

"Not much really, in fact I was a little flustered. I didn't really tell her much about us, not about your accident anyway, I just said we had decided to start anew in this lovely place and hoped to start a family one day."

"Oh well, maybe that's the way they are round here- rather nosey." I then told Jane about Michaelson and how he had said to me that we would enjoy the woods, and how everyone here loved them, and as I recounted my meeting I began to realise how odd the exchange had been.

"Yes, Mrs. Caulfield knew our names before I told her, and she also said that everyone knows everything about everyone here too. She was quite keen to talk about the woods as well, said that they were what this community was built around. Maybe we have just met the two weirdoes of the village then, hopefully everybody else will be quite normal when we finally meet them."

"Hopefully." I limped into the lounge and sat on the sofa, my legs needed a rest.

Later that evening when we were feet-up on the sofas, Jane suggested going out for a drink at the local pub I'd told her about.

"If you're OK with the walking that is?"

"Yeah I think I can just about make it for a drink" I said with a smile, "as long as you don't mind a slow pace to get there, today has really taken it out of me."

"Tom it's OK, really, if it's too much we can just stay in tonight."

* * *

As the old wooden door swung on its creaky hinges the bustling atmosphere inside The Old Oak turned to silence. There were numerous tables of small groups and four elderly gentlemen sat up at the bar. All of their eyes were fixated on Jane and me. I smiled politely and made my way to the bar, while Jane found the one remaining empty table and sat down, acknowledging the two men sat next to her. As I approached it seemed as though the initial wonder from the other patrons had vanished, and they all began their conversations once more. The barman was a tall and rather rotund man of around 40 years, with an unkempt greying beard protruding from his face and not a single hair on the top of his head.

"Well, well, well, we didn't think it would be long until you two showed your faces in here. I'm Edward and welcome to the village, and of course The Old Oak."

"Thank you Edward, I'm Tom and that is my wife Jane." I signalled to her and she waved from the table in front of the blazing warm fire. "Nice place you've got here, could I have a bottle of lager and a glass of white wine please?" Edward caught my eye for longer than seemed appropriate before appearing to force a smile onto his weathered lips, hiding behind the masses of beard. He hadn't even looked over at Jane.

"Yes you may, Tom," he said slowly as he turned to the small fridge behind him. As he took out the bottle of wine he said rather casually, "Betty not with you tonight then? Too scared of the woods is she?"

"Excuse me? How did you kn--"

"Oh word travels quickly around here Tom, Mr Jacobs was in here earlier telling us all how he'd met you while you were walking your dog, and how she seemed a bit, how can I say, wary of our woods." His name was not Jacobs it was Michaelson, but my tiredness preventing me from correcting him on this.

"Yeah, I suppose you could say that, there was something a bit odd about her before, I've never seen her like that." Another smile seemed to be forced onto Edward's face as he placed the drinks in front of me. As I heard the glass touch down on the wooden bar there was a flash of light and I was transported back into those woods once more. I saw the dark trunks descend into blackness and thought that I heard the sound of a vehicle speeding towards me.

"You're not day-dreaming again are you Tom?" I came to as Edward spoke, and he stared at me, as if he was trying to read what was in my head, trying to decipher this vision. "It's a dangerous thing to dream here, you never know what you might see, believe me, we have all seen some things when we dream. The woods, was it?"

"No, I'm just tired, it's been a long and hectic day for us that's all. Thanks for the drinks." I handed over a note and told Edward to keep the change before heading over to Jane and sitting down closely next to her.

"What was that all about then hun?"

"Nothing, don't worry about it. Look let's just finish these and get back home to bed, I think I'm more tired than I realise." As I gulped back my bottle I saw that Edward had not taken his eyes off me since I sat down, and that all the others in there were subtly watching us too. Jane looked at me with disappointed agreement.

Even with my stick and my paining limbs we were walking with a fast cadence, I just wanted to get home and sleep.

"So what did he say to you then Tom?" Jane's voice sounded concerned, but I couldn't look at her to see what her eyes said, I just stared at the ground and every time my stick hit the path the noise shot through my head like a thunderbolt. My memory of earlier in the woods had been awoken in there, and Edward, he knew.

"Just, something about those woods, not to go there or something, I don't know. Let's worry about all this in the morning." As we continued to walk I felt Jane's pace slow and was aware of her looking over to where the giant trees lived. She stopped suddenly, I felt her grip on my hand tighten, then she continued on.

"Sorry hun, I think I need some sleep too." I knew that Jane would say that she was just tired, but I also knew that she had seen something in there.

* * *

I was woke by a wet tongue gliding down my cheek, and I knew from the smell that it was not Jane's. Betty was in a better mood and up for another walk by the way she was jumping around the bedroom. I heard her but didn't see, I was staring up at the ceiling, the pattern in the artex resembled tiny branches and twigs, and appeared to move. Or was I just dreaming?

"Tom, Tom!" I heard Jane's voice getting louder which awoke me from my thoughts. "Did you not hear me, shall we both take her out today?" As I turned my head towards her Jane reached out and stroked my hair.

"Sorry babe, I was miles away." But I wasn't miles away, in my mind I was there once more, between the towers with the branches encircling me like an herbaceous ribcage contracting slowly and tightly. "Do you mind if I give it a miss for a while, I think I'm still pretty tired after all that exertion yesterday." By that I meant mental exertion, I had dreamt all night of those trees that spoke to me, unable to comprehend what they were saying. My head started to hurt again, trees cannot speak Tom!!

"Are you OK Tom? What's wrong, you have been acting strangely ever since you spoke to that barman last night. Please, talk to me."

"Jane, I love you." Her sympathetic look turned a little fearful.

"I love you too hun, you're beginning to worry me now. Are you thinking about the crash, I understand you know? Such a traumatic time for you, I'm just so glad you are still here at all." Jane always knew the right thing to say to put me at ease, but this time it wasn't helping.

"I know you may think I sound crazy, but there's something in those woods. I've... seen it."

"What do you mean, is this because Betty was scared to go in? Oh Tom," she took my hand in hers and squeezed gently, "come on, you're just still tired from all the moving and the, how can I say, interesting characters around here."

"No, it's not that," I snatched my hand back from her, more aggressively than I had meant. "Have you noticed how interesting they actually are though? Every person I have met here has known who we are. That barman, Edward seemed to know a lot about what had happened yesterday, surely Michaelson, or Jacobs, or whatever his name was wouldn't have told him every single detail about our meeting?"

"Well maybe there really is nothing more interesting to do around here, you know, sleepy village with a new couple moving in, I'm sure we are one of the youngest here, it's all a bit new and exciting for them I suppose." I looked her in the eye and felt her anguish at the way I was behaving, but I couldn't help it, every time I had closed my eyes I had seen the woods, and each time I seemed to be deeper into them with the exit seeming to disappear slowly and harrowingly.

"Have you seen anything yourself, last night on the way home?"

"Well, kind of. Tom, we were both very tired yesterday, you know how it is, the mind plays tricks sometimes."

"There's something not right about this place and I think it's got something to do with those woods. Have you noticed how weird and out-of-place they look? Most woodland looks like it has been there for hundreds of years and people have settled and built around them, but these seem, I don't know, like they have been transported here or something"

Betty had been very patient during our conversation but now she had had enough and really wanted to go out. She bounded onto the bed and for a brief moment I forgot about my worries and shared a smile with Jane.

"Listen hun, I'll take Betty out, see how she gets on there with me, I'm sure she'll be fine. You stay here and get some rest, we can maybe go out for a walk the three of us after lunch?" She leant over and kissed me on the forehead. "We won't be long." As she got up to leave I rolled over and covered my face with the duvet. I heard her getting washed and dressed, and Betty playfully scampering around the house before I drifted off to sleep.

I dreamt, but what I saw in my slumber could not really be described as dreams. I seemed to be engulfed in a void where fear was my only conscious thought, and this dream-like state seemed to have gone on for hours when I was awoken suddenly by the panic-filled shouting of my wife.

* * *

The door swung open hitting the wall with its handle as she burst into the room.

"Tom, Tom, wake up. It's, it's.... Betty, she's gone!" Part of my mind was still in that indescribable vacant dream as I comprehended her words.

"What do you mean, what happened?"

"I don't know exactly... one minute she was there... with me, the next..." her breathing was erratic and her words were forced out and uncontrolled. "I was there on that path that leads to the woods with her, her lead off and I turned round for just a second and... she was just, gone."

"Well did she run off or something? It's not like her."

"I don't know Tom, I couldn't see her, I couldn't hear her, I just don't know."

"Come on, let's go and look for her again, she can't have got very far." I could tell that Jane was upset so decided not to continue with the questions. I got out of bed and put on some clothes. I smiled nervously at her, knowing full well we would have to go into those woods once more, my heart was throbbing in my chest at the thought.

The wind was up as we closed the front door and I began to hobble down the path. I'd taken a couple of painkillers before leaving as I was still a bit achy from yesterday and the wind seemed to tickle my pain receptors as they slowly began to work. Jane wasn't in the mood for talking, she was preoccupied with Betty and where she had gone, as was I of course, but at the forefront of my thinking was the fact that we were about to enter those woods once again. This made me momentarily lose my balance and I needed Jane to grab my arm to stop me from tumbling to the floor.

"Tom are you sure you're OK?

"Yeah I'm OK, just a bit painful today that's all. The tablets will kick in soon, anyway we need to find Betty." Jane leant over and kissed me on the cheek.

"You will be completely mended soon hun, and no more need for a stupid walking stick, we can go running in those woods together, me, you and Betty." As she spoke I had the mental image of what she described, and at that moment I wished more than anything else to never be able to walk without a stick, or even walk at all. The thought of never being able to enter those woods again was disconcertingly comforting.

Our walk had been slow, and not one of us had spoken for well over five minutes. On a few occasions I had nearly stumbled, only to be caught by Jane and helped to balance, each time she had kissed me on the forehead. Across the road a large lady, perhaps in her fifties opened her front door and shouted over to us.

"Morning Tom, morning Jane. I hope that you both find little Betty soon. Good day to you both." And with that she slid back inside and closed the door, the latch clunking loudly. We looked at each other and Jane appeared frightened. The gaze only lasted a few seconds and we continued on.

As we reached the gate in the fence the sun had disappeared behind a dark cloud and the wind had picked up even more. Jane pushed it open and we entered the outskirts of the woods. A tall man in a business suit called over from the other side of the fence.

"Good luck finding her, I'm sure she will be fine." He waved as he continued walking along the road. Our eyes met once again, but we had more urgency this time and covered our fear well.

"Betty! Betty!"

"Betty. Where are you girl? Jane I think I may have to rest a minute, can we just stop?" I sat down on the ground and felt such a relief as the weight was taken from my legs. I almost relaxed, but as I started to I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. There was a scratching sound, I looked towards it and saw Betty at the base of a tree with its roots above ground that were circling menacingly around its giant trunk. She looked up at us, and immediately turned and ran off into the shadows. Jane shouted after her and began running.

"Jane! Wait!" She slowed her pace but didn't stop as she turned to look at me.

"I'll be back Tom, I can see her." And she turned back and started to sprint, off into the shadows.

"No, stop! Jane!" But my cries were muffled by the denseness of the woods. I stared up to the sky, but saw no clouds, no sun, only leaves and branches. The blackness hit me once more and opened my eyes to see myself standing in a clearing, a circle of giant trees around me all had someone standing in front of them, around twenty or thirty. Michaelson stood before me, smiling.

"Wake up Tom, I think your wife is calling you."

As the vision blurred into nothingness and the darkness around me subsided, I felt myself thrown back to the cold wet ground, and for the first time since it happened remembered the moment of impact as the van smashed into my bike. As I opened my eyes I saw Jane striving towards me with Betty in her arms.

"You see Tom, I told you that I could see her. She must have been in here the whole time. You feeling better now? Good. I need a drink. Let's pop into The Old Oak again and see how everyone is."

"What? Jane, no I don't want to go in there, I want to get out of here and go home. I need to go to bed." I had tried to keep the fear from my voice, but my words quivered in the stillness of the air. Jane must have sensed my apprehension but didn't show it. Instead she just stared at me, like she hadn't understood what I had said at all. I struggled to my feet and without looking at her, outstretched my hand to Jane, but she was already walking away, back to the gate. It took me a while to finally get to my feet and once I did I started my slow amble behind her.

"Jane hold on, wait for me." She didn't turn to me, only stopped and started to fuss Betty, stroking her under the chin. I was concentrating solely on getting to that gate, even though behind me I felt and heard the whispers of the trees, it took all my mental strength not to turn around.

I made it to the gate where Jane and Betty were waiting for me, talking to an elderly man in a tweed jacket. They were laughing together and obviously talking about Betty and how she had been found. As I approached them the man looked at me and smiled.

"Hey there Tom, glad to see everything is back to how it should be."

"Sorry, do I know you?" My tone was sharp with him, but this didn't seem to change his demeanour in any way.

"No, no you don't, not yet at least. We all know everyone here though my boy."

"Tom don't be so rude, Mr Jacobs here was just telling us how he lost his dog here a few years back."

"That's right, Mildred her name was, went running off when my back was turned one evening. Me and my late wife were out all night looking for her, but she came back eventually. You're not the first."

"Well I'm just pleased that she's back unharmed. Now, we were about to head home, Jane?"

"Oh Tom, not yet, Mr Jacobs here has invited us to The Old Oak for a drink, we cannot refuse such generosity now can we?" Although she smiled at me as she said this, the normal warmth from her features had gone. I was tired and confused, but found it easier to simply agree with her. I nodded as she opened the gate and was helped through by the old man's outstretched hand. As I turned to shut the gate behind me I dared to look up, just briefly at the trees. The blackness was as always, but the distant whispers had changed to a deep laughing, almost a chanting of some unknown dialect. It tried to hold my gaze, but I fought the urge and turned to follow them towards the pub.

As I approached the door to The Old Oak Jane was tying Betty's lead to the railings outside and spoke without looking at me.

"I'll have the usual please Tom, just give me a minute to get Betty sorted and I'll see you in there."

"Jane, are you OK? You seem different." I couldn't really find any more words, I was so dumbstruck and this apparent change in her since she entered the woods and was shocked at her new attitude.

"Yeah, fine. Go and get the drinks in and say hello to everyone will you?" Again she averted her eyes from mine. With confusion I staggered towards the door and pushed firmly.

The pub seemed empty at first, and eerily quiet. As I made my way forward I heard that strange chanting or laughing again, and then I saw them. The people I had witnessed in my vision were all there, hiding and peering at me from under the tables and behind the beams. Edward was standing behind the bar with his arms outstretched beckoning me towards him.

"Ah Tom, so glad you could join us, it seems you have resisted well so far."

"Resisted? What do you mean, resisted?" The chanting was pounding in my ears although no one seemed to be moving their lips. My heart began to beat rapidly, my breathing quickened and I felt weak on my feet.

"Those of you who are blinded must be taught to see, and that is why we brought you here. This place brings back memories of the accident doesn't it, which of course provided you with the necessary funds to move here. Now you shall be one with us. You are strong Tom, and refuse to witness the real horrors out there, but by seeing them first hand you shall become one of them."

The others in the room stepped forward with a harrowing precision and began to laugh and point at me. I felt my legs start to shake and as I looked down at the stick in my hand it was changed. No longer a standard walking stick to aid patients after major injuries to their legs, it now resembled a simple stick that a dog would fetch.

"What... are... is... help me!" My breathing was incessant and my mind was spinning, I dropped the stick and fell to the ground. As I stared up to the ceiling of old wooden beams Edward's face came into view.

"It was quite an effort to get you here, but we made it, as it was foretold. Your place is with the trees now."

And with that I blacked out. When I awoke I was aware that I was standing in darkness. As my eyes adjusted I saw that I was in the woods again. I couldn't turn my head and my eyes were drawn to a row of people- men, women and children stood opposite me and staring. I turned my eyes to the left and could make out Jane next to me, she was sobbing.

"It's OK Tom, I'm here with you." I tried to respond but my vocal chords felt like they had vanished. I tried to run but there was no movement in my legs. As I glanced down I saw that they were now a large tree stump, devoid of any movement. I cried out but the noise was stifled inside my throat and unable to escape. My mind could not comprehend what had happened. In the row in front of me I saw Michaelson, Edward, Jacobs, the old woman who had shouted from her house not 2 hours ago, and the smart-suited businessman. All had long-standing pained expressions on their faces. None of them spoke, and neither did Jane again, and the fact that I couldn't even turn to look at her killed me inside.

One morning a young man came walking through us with his seemingly terrified dog. Someone called from the road and welcomed him to the village. As he turned back from acknowledging them he seemed to look me straight in the eye. I tried to scream at him to get out of here and quick, but his face took on a pale and terrified look. He stumbled as he tried to run away, but he eventually did. I knew then that I would see him again, lined up with me and the rest of the previous residents, no doubt.


2014 Morgan K. Tanner

Bio: Mr. Tanner is a writer, drummer, and golfist currently residing in the English countryside. The quiet surroundings make it an ideal place to write, drum and hide the bodies. The sound of the typewriter is perfect to drown out the hum of the torture equipment.

E-mail: Morgan K. Tanner

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