May 05

A True Story

A True Story.


Although he was unable to attend the session ‘Creating the setting‘ one of our members, Ray, decided to read the post

Establishing the setting’ and have a go at the writing task He came up with this piece, based, he assures me, on a true story:


I remember it like yesterday, a late October afternoon in the Autumn of 1962, a lowering sky tending to indicate winter was waiting in the wings, the deciduous trees beginning the first shedding of leaves. Here was I, alone walking in the Vale of Deadly Nightshade, situated midway between the hamlet of Roose and the small market town of Dalton located on the Furness peninsula. My intended destination was Furness Abbey, or to be more precise the ruins of the same, long abandoned since the time of the Dissolution. I finally emerged from the heavily wooded area through which I had tramped for some thirty-five minutes and I saw it, not for the first time in my young life, filling my eye with its sandstone grandeur as it always did, a brooding place, an edifice built to the glory of God but now an empty shell, a testament to Royal bigotry and intolerance. It was a Wednesday and the site was closed to the public as was the usual situation, my favourite day to visit because entry was free if you could climb the perimeter fence. There was never anyone in the grounds on Wednesdays, the custodian’s office was locked and shuttered, you had the place to yourself.
I wandered through the ruins taking the same route as I always did, past the cloisters, the monks’ cells, their food preparation areas, kitchens, ablutions and their place of worship. I paused for a while, seating myself on what remained of a sandstone column and gazed up at the South transept, all the while wondering what life must have been like centuries ago in this place. It was then I saw them, marks of a hoof, not cloven so most likely those of a horse, in the lush turf, but no animals as far as I knew could get into the site, or were indeed ever kept there.
The westerly breeze began to pick up, stirring the branches and leaves of the nearby trees as if to say what are you doing here, mere mortal. I felt a shiver run through me as I thought of the Abbey’s legendary ghost, the headless horseman and his alleged charges across the grounds. I pulled myself together, attempting to convince myself it was nonsense; ghosts didn’t exist, did they? I was alone, probably the only human soul for miles, but still, I felt no fear as I continued on my stroll. The wind grew in intensity, moaning now through the trees, their boughs bending in a most surreal way I thought. The clouds in the monochrome sky rolled across the heavens at a speed I had never seen before, like some kind of evil portent, heralding the arrival of wickedness.
It was then I froze, petrified, as I heard it, the unmistakeable sound of equine hooves at the gallop, and the snorting nostrils as the beast drew in life’s oxygen then blew it out, the noise growing louder as it approached from behind me. I turned to my right and as I did the unearthly sound diminished and the spectre disappeared into the trees, whether I did see something I know not, but I was a country boy and I had heard a thousand times the sound of a galloping horse. Of that, reader be assured, there was no doubt. I took to my heels and fled, running the five miles home as if the hounds of hell were in pursuit, not stopping until I reached my domestic sanctuary.

I have visited the Abbey grounds on a number of occasions since, but never alone, and always when it was open to the public.
Ray Targett


Category: Members work. Tags: Sertting,description

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