Introducing the new horror fiction from Jan McDonald – The Crowsmoor Curse. The purpose of this short piece is to introduce you to one of its main characters, Mike Travis. If you would like to read more, you can download now via Amazon by clicking the link to the right.
The mists come down quickly and the wind howls like tortured banshees over Bodmin Moor where unwary travellers are advised to keep to the main roads and keep their eyes averted from the rough granite outcrops and moorland bogs. This is the land of smugglers and ghosts and Otherworldly creatures like the Piskies and the Knockers, still said to inhabit the old mines. Hard to keep an open mind in the vicinity, Mike Travis knew he had to be objective. As a paranormal investigator there could be nothing to cloud his judgement but even so, as he pulled his car over at the edge of Dozemary Pond, legends of the area came to life in his head.
He swallowed two codeine to help relieve the pain in his leg; reconstructed with titanium plates, rods and artificial joints after a helicopter crash in Afghanistan had ended his air force career. Over the years he had learned to blank out the pain but occasionally it got the better of him. The long drive into Cornwall had exacerbated it and he knew he had to rest.
He looked over the grey water surrounded by reeds and marsh and understood why it had been the source of many legends, including that of Excalibur being hurled into its centre and caught by the hand of the Lady in the Lake. He shrugged off the images and took out the letter that had brought him there.
The handwriting was arthritic and crabbed, written in the Cornish vernacular, it had come from an old man. A frightened old man.
Charlie Paynter was the bell ringer in Crowsmoor, a scattered community of small cottages and a couple of farms presided over by St Michael’s Church and the old Manor. It couldn’t aspire to being a village, being little more than an isolated hamlet in the middle of the bleak moor. It wasn’t even on the map and had defeated his search engine. It was as if it didn’t exist, but maybe it wanted it that way.
He read the letter again, trying to get a feeling for the case. Mike relied on his instincts and they were on high alert. His alarm bells had been set off by one particular section of the letter.
Every morning at six and every evening at six. Six tolls of the bells. The bells have to be rung dead on six; otherwise . . . He’ll come back.
The dead don’t sleep quiet here in Crowsmoor, they never have. Not since he came, anyway. Must be four hundred years gone now. Folk round here close their eyes to it. Don’t understand see. They think that when I’ve gone they can maybe get someone else to ring the bells, or they won’t bother being as they believe its naught but owd superstition and they’m being too modern to think on it. They hear them, everyday they hear them, but they don’t understand. They don’t understand what the bells keep away.
Mike thought he understood. Cornish folk may believe in their legends and folk lore but above all they were very pragmatic people and didn’t spook easily.
Charlie Paynter was spooked…