October 30th. 1899
No one knows who put the Way Stone there or why, one local myth says that in days gone young women hoping for a child would pour honey or place a garland of flowers over the “beak” of the column while others hinted at a darker past, saying the protuberance acted as both anchor point and anvil to strike off the hands or even head of an unlucky victim tied there, some said it was called the Way Stone because it was a signpost for Hell itself. It was said the screams of their suffering could oft be heard most especially upon All Hallows Eve and the local people all agreed it was a place steeped in arcane mystery and best avoided after dark.
So it is with that in mind that I, Professor Arnold Guthridge of St Aidan’s College set off to keep all-night vigil and study this so called haunted stone accompanied by Mr John Stack one of my students and his fiancée Mary Brook with Evelyn Poole her aunt as chaperone.
October 31st 6.30 pm;
After making a fire some distance from the stone we settled down for the night, John had brought his camera and set it upon a tripod with the intent of taking regular photographs and we had with us a pair of the new battery powered torches (they are notoriously unreliable so we have also brought some good old bullseye oil lanterns). The ladies are scared and excited in equal measure, Aunt Evelyn is pretending not to be affected so but it is apparent to me and John and I have assured them that they will come to no harm with us here.
Mary insisted she saw something moving in the trees ahead of the stone, I valiantly went to investigate and I admit this freely, almost jumped out of my skin when a fox ran out of the undergrowth. I returned to much laughter and we boiled up a kettle to have tea and partake of the delicious “Scottish” shortbread her Aunt had brought with her. I must admit the spinster has a fine cast to her face.
a strange drowsiness has come over all of us, Mary has fallen asleep on John’s lap and after finally running out of conversation Evelyn and I sat together against a tree to doze.
an unholy sound has woken us all with a start, it could be best described as the deep sonorous unending toll of a large bell deep underground, Evelyn who had fallen asleep in my arms gave me a guilty look before rushing to comfort her niece who was quite shaken. The sound stopped suddenly as if cut off and I then assisted John in taking a few photographs using flash powder, we all even bravely stood before the stone pillar with John operating the camera at distance with a squeeze bulb. Never had waiting for the correct exposure seemed so long.
I am writing this after the terrible events so forgive me as I may have missed something out. I must have fallen into a swoon for when I came round I was shocked to see Mary clad only in her in her bodice and underskirts moving in a most unladylike way while pressing herself against the stone pillar as John and her Aunt both seemingly in a daze were busily binding her hands to the beak like protuberance. Imagine my horror when I saw ghostly figures dancing around them, though I could not clearly make out their appearance I saw several were carrying axes!
I produced the pistol I had concealed in my jacket and fired into it the air crying. “You must stop this madness now!”
This had the effect of bringing them all to their senses and Evelyn covered Mary while her fiancé unfastened her bindings, the figures now aware of me glared malevolently and as they began to approach I pointed the gun at them then realising it would be useless against such ethereal creatures went quickly to my bag to produce an electric torch and shine it upon them, I know not why I knew it would work against them but the eldritch forms shied away from the bright light. Evelyn and Mary ran to our camp and I threw the other torch to John who upon catching it drove the beings back further.
“Come on man let us flee while we can!” I cried, for the primitive hiding inside this man of science realised this was the best action.
John had a found a large rock and was smashing it down intending to destroy the beak. “Professor, keep your light upon me it will stop their approach.”
Evelyn had acquired a lantern and lighting it joined me to shine her beam, wan by comparison to my electric light on the student. Then just as he chipped off a massive piece both of our torches failed leaving only the bullseye barely illuminating us, a ghastly scream rang out and with no attempt at valour we all three fled leaving everything behind including Mary’s poor swain…
November 1st; I returned the next day with a pair of local constables and a couple of sturdy farmhands to discover the protuberance broken from the pillar where it lay in pieces.
“You shouldn’t have meddled.” said one of the farmhands and the other nodded sagely. “No-one comes here after dusk and ‘tis better for you that you never come here again, they’re going to be plenty angry now.”
I recovered all our things and the policemen searched thoroughly but of John Stack they found no sign…
back at the university I had the photographic plates developed and invited Evelyn, who I have developed an affinity for and had proved to be a sturdy individual, to examine them with me leaving poor Mary safely ensconced with her parents grieving for her lost love. Lighting the projector’s lamp I closed the curtains we viewed John’s handiwork changing the slides rapidly as nothing other than the pillar, now a source of abhorrence to us both, was displayed until we reached the last slide showing us all stood before the cursed thing. I won’t describe what we saw on the slide, I don’t have the words but Evelyn grabbed my hand in the dark to squeeze it tightly.
“Arnold they didn’t really want my niece, she was really just an appetizer for them.” She whispered to me in shock.
I had to admit the lady was right, for there visible on the slide indescribable monstrosities gathered around us, for some reason they chose to ignore me and but a scant few hovered near Evelyn and Mary but the majority were staring intently, eagerly at my poor student John…
© Kyt Wright 2019