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The Nights When The Mist Rolls In.

By Tooma

It's been a while, longer than anticipated, since we posted anything. We had no web access, other than cellular, for just over a month as we changed our ISP. It should have been simple, but thanks to eight inept/lazy engineers, yes eight, and a wierdo neighbour intent on denying access to the telecoms pole in her garden, it took much longer. Anywho, here are a few words from Mo about her latest image.

"The residents of the village have had many theories as to the origin of the two small stone structures that, seemingly, have always been near the edge of the clifftop path. "Just old distance markers" some say. "Just remnants from a small farming settlement that once dwelt on that spot." says Mrs McCawber from the village café. Mr Tweed, the church handyman, believes they are memorial stones to a church that was built on that spot in the 1500s, that sadly burnt to the ground and had to be demolished - save for two sections of the stone gate pillars that were left as a remembrance, he supposes.

Unfortunately, the truth is much less benign.

Dear old Hugh Highcliff, the oldest living member of the Highcliff family, was the only person still alive who actually knew the whole truth. That was until the wife of his great nephew, Magnus, came for a visit. Verity was a charming woman and very disarming and oh so interested...that before he knew what he was doing, he was telling her the full story. It was as if he couldn't stop himself. She had three strange photographs that although Hugh had never seen before, struck a frighteningly familiar chord with him. Verity already seemed to know so much...but...not enough, and Hugh could not seem to avoid trotting out all the gory details. He felt like some strange compulsion had overcome him as he held those photographs in his palsied hands.

So, out it all came, as Verity sat and stared in silent rapt horror. The whole horrid tale of Maxmillion Highcliff. That shameful, evil tyrant. How he bewitched the daughter of Lamont Adams. Constance Verity Adams (yes, that name Verity odd. Here he was telling another Verity of all this long hidden awfulness). The family rumour was that Maxmillion was dabbling in the dark arts and that he had cast some sort of spell over Constance. She was seen on many occasions, walking in the dead of night along the clifftop to Highcliff Castle (the ruin in the image) as if in a trance. Strange noises and lights and a horrible sense of foreboding surrounded the castle during her visits. There were rumours of missing travellers, blood found on gate posts and items of clothing found washed up on the rocks below the castle. Suspicion, fear and dread gripped the village. Something was brewing...something.

Hugh poured it all out, and he was vaguely aware of the feeling that some dark sinuous line was forming in the air surrounding him. As if all his words were connectiong like some ghastly black snake...winding round his neck, hissing, choking him, suffocating him, but still he talked on. Unable to resist, unable to stop. As Verity sat motionless, staring, eyes wide, heart racing.

The villagers were shocked when news of the impending marriage came out. "At least that shameless man has finally decided to do the right thing. Scandalous, their brazen behaviour." Hugh remembered his aunt telling him that her grandmother had said this and that many others had echoed the sentiment.

Then the day dawned. Dark, cold and decidedly unwedding like weather. Even for the area and the time of year it was unseasonably dreary and gloomy. The wedding was not in the, that would not have been acceptable. The unjoyous event took place inside Highcliff Castle. Only a handful of family members invited, none of Constance's came, only Maxmillion's. Lightning struck the bell tower of the church at the moment the pronouncement of marriage was made, according to Hugh's Uncle. The bell was cracked from top to bottom. Still is...

Then, that night....the tragedy. No one could testify exactly what happened. It was hours after the family had left. The storm worsened, the lighting struck the Castle repeatedly. The wailing and shrieking and hideous laughter rang out along the cliff top. The villagers lay awake in their beds. No one rested that night.

It was little Georgie Machair that found them the next day. Out running and playing along the beach on a clear fresh morning, the storm just a memory. He saw them there, pale as ghosts. Lifeless, at the foot of the cliffs. Maxmillions face contorted in a horrible rictus of malevolence. Georgie screamed for his mum, who was running to catch him up. It was the last sound that wee Georgie ever made. He never spoke again. Whether he wouldn't or couldn't was never determined.

The whole ugly business was dealt with very discreetly. Maxmillion's father saw to that. The bodies were buried, without ceremony and with no one to shed a tear, at the top of the cliff, in sight of the still smouldering Highcliff Castle on a dark moonless night. Two simple markers, engraved with their initials - MH and CVH, were placed. The Highcliff's could not bear to have a family member buried with no marker. In hindsight, they agreed that perhaps they should have just left the plots unmarked. No one wanted to do the unpleasant task of removing them though.

Most people in the village believed that the newly weds had gone off on honeymoon. No one questioned why they never returned. The villagers hoped they would stay away for good. Little Georgie's mother never spoke of the incident. The Highcliff's paid for Georgie to have a full time nurse. She had previously looked after several of the Highcliff children and was most.....trustworthy.

Hugh watched as Verity opened his front gate, turned, waved briefly to him and walked on down the path, back to Highcliff Manor. He poured a drink to steady himself. He glanced down and saw that Verity had left the photograph of the apparitions on the clifftop. He swept it into the drawer on the table. Who could have taken that image? They were a fool not to destroy it! Yet, he was also seemingly powerless to destroy it. "I'll lock this drawer. I will lock it and nail it shut! and never open it again. Not ever." Suddenly Hugh was very tired. More tired than he ever remembered feeling before. He sat in his favourite chair, and closed his eyes.".

Just remembered; I did contribute a wee bit to this presentation - I took the shot of Mo - she took the shot of me, then dressed me in period clothes.

Tags: Landscape Galloway Digital art South west scotland Dunskey castle Port patrick Composite image the South Cliffs

Voters: Hermanus, Chinga, LotaLota and 17 more

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Chinga Plus
10 3 2 United Kingdom
28 Oct 2019 2:43AM
Good work, both the image and the write up...
Isabel GrinGrin
28 Oct 2019 8:58AM
Cracking stuff and suitably topical for the week ahead! Lovely to see you posting again and sorry to hear about your travails! Will message later but in a bit of a rush now!
Take care both and all the best, G. SmileSmileSmileSmileSmileSmileSmile
PhilT2 Plus
10 531 31 England
28 Oct 2019 9:41AM
Well what a return !!! Monday has been a miserable day without your input...... thought you had deserted us Sad
A whole chapter of your riveting novel. Oh and the picture ain't bad either. Nice bit of photographic input from Tom.
Very pleased you are back up and running.

mac Plus
19 9 Scotland
28 Oct 2019 11:47AM
Welcome back after your problems with your ISP and with no Internet you feel cut-off from the World. Sad isn't?
A great re-entry with quite a story I almost beginning to believe it especially at this time of the year. The image backs up the story so it might be true after all?
taggart Plus
16 47 14 United States
28 Oct 2019 5:34PM
Welcome back-- and what a fine story for the season!
dales Plus
4 11 Australia
2 Nov 2019 9:49PM
Another masterpiece , wonderful !!!

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