The Flaming Curse
As James lay in bed with his wife, Alice, he began to dream; he saw two boys around ten years old playing soldiers with their makeshift wooden muskets. One was a redcoat, the other a bluecoat. One of them pretended to bayonet his friend as he fell onto the grass.
Suddenly both the boys stood up after hearing the sound of distant drums coming from the direction of a hill a mile away. They stared transfixed at the hill when their jaws dropped with fear when they saw a battalion of British redcoats marching over the brow of the hill. The boys quickly turned and ran into the town of Pitville. James saw the boys frantically shouting out …
“The British are coming!” “The British are coming!”
The townspeople just laughed at them. No one seemed to believe the boys because they were always telling tales. Their parents didn’t believe them either and hastily locked them in their bedrooms until morning.
The dream continued, and James saw the red coats enter the small town, causing blind panic. Women and children were screaming as they forced the people out of their homes, gathering them all together. But a few patriots of about a dozen men armed themselves with muskets and fired at the soldiers. They seemed to wound and kill some of them. However, the British were many and killed most of the patriots and took the remainder as prisoners.
Soon the redcoats rounded up the women, children, and remaining men and locked them into the town’s church.
Moments later, the dream became fuzzy; as it cleared, James saw what looked like a redcoat throw something and smash one of the church windows. Soon after, he threw several flaming torches through the window, causing a raging fire to start in the church. A moment later, there were screams from the women and children.
The attention focused on a redcoat, who had started the fire. He was now wearing a bluecoat uniform. He could be seen hiding behind a water trough from the redcoats. He waited for the opportunity to escape and climbed onto a horse, and galloped away.
Some of the redcoats nearby spotted him and fired their muskets, but he got free. It was then that the soldiers heard screaming coming from the church and saw it was ablaze. They quickly opened the church doors to let the people out; some women ran off screaming with their clothes on fire. Some of the redcoats took off their jackets and tried to douse out the women smothered in flames, but it was too late to save them by then. All those still in the church perished. The dream seemed to freeze-frame then, and in the church, James observed a calendar showing the date - June 15, 2015.
The dream then became cloudy and changed to a scene of the town mayor’s office. James now saw the redcoat’s commander, Colonel Bellingham, with Mayor Frederick Johnson, talking to the same bluecoat who had set fire to the church. As James looked on, he noticed the Colonel hand over a purse of money to both men, who gave an evil laugh.
Soon after, the dream became cloudy with a blue mist; then, there was nothingness.
“James!James! It’s alright; you had a bad dream!” Shouted his wife, Alice. Shaking him gently. He awoke startled from his lucid dream, his forehead and body now drenched in sweat.
“Are you okay?” Asked Alice. “
You were mumbling something about redcoats and traitors.
“Yes, Alice, I had the same dream again like yesterday; But this had more detail!” “It had the date of when the fire is going to happen in the church. It was so real!”
“OH, love, it’s only a bad dream; it’s not a premonition!”She said.
James kept quiet, deciding it was pointless arguing with his wife, and went back to sleep.
The following morning, James googled on his laptop to see if a town called Pitville existed in America during the war of independence.
His face lit up when a website showed a small village in South Carolina called Pitville from 1690 to 1775 and still exists today in 2015. As he researched further, he discovered that, indeed, the redcoats had occupied the town. He turned pale when it mentioned who was in charge of the battalion, a British Colonel named Bellingham. It went on to say that the Colonel, Mayor of the town, Frederick Johnson, and a bluecoat named John Peterson were all hung for murder. The latter had pleaded guilty, saying how both the Mayor and the Colonel asked him to start the fire at the church, which killed Forty-two men, women, and children. It was a propaganda exercise to make out that the British were murderers. Indeed, Bellingham was, in fact, a bluecoat and an American spy!
James sat back in his chair, trying to process this remarkable evidence that the dream he had was not an ordinary dream, but something paranormal! He felt unnerved about the date he saw in the church. And that the 15 June was only days away.
He thought of his options; he could just forget all about the dreams and get on with his life, or he could go to Pitville in America and stay until the date passed without anything happening.
James knew that if he told Alice now, she would do everything to put him off going to the States. So he booked a morning flight at Heathrow for South Carolina.
Fortunately for James, he works from home as an illustrator and could easily organise time off when needed. His real problem would be telling Alice.
Ideally, he wanted Alice to go to the US with him, but she had to work and certainly wouldn’t go anyway. So there was nothing for it. So James had to do this himself even though he didn’t know what he could do once he got to Pitville.
James thought of the blazing quarrel he had with Alice earlier this morning as he sat on the plane going to America. But, then, he had felt so passionate about the dream that no matter what Alice told him, he would have none of it. As for telling him not to bother to come back,
“Sod her!”He thought, “If she cannot stand by him, so be it!”
Finally, after arriving in South Carolina, James got a bus to Pitville, some three hours away. He had booked a reservation in a motel for a few days in the village.
Finally, the bus arrived at Pitville, where he saw a large yellow board showing the town population of 3,065. A thought crossed his mind, remembering in 1775, the population was only165. Shortly after, he got a taxi to take him to the motel. As the cab drove him through the picturesque scenery; It reminded him of an English village with quaint homes; this was to be expected; after all, most of the original ancestors were from England back in the 1640s.
Suddenly the cab drove past an old church. “Was that the same church he had dreamt about?” He thought. An hour passed when the taxi finally stopped outside his motel.
As James got out of the car, he felt a strange, cold quiver run through his spine, as he had the feeling he’d been this way before.
After booking into the motel, he got a map of Pitville village from the reservations desk. Later, he rested in his room, checking over the map.
Fully rested, James decided to have a walk through the village. He remembered that on his way to the motel, the church was just around the corner.
As he turned the corner, there stood the wooden church, painted white. He went up to the entrance and saw a blue plaque. Suddenly, he had a vision of men, women, and children screaming, and he saw the church on fire with some women rushing out of the church with their clothes in flames. Soon after, the images vanished; he read what it said on the plaque.
It said 'in memory of all those 42 men, women and children who perished in the church fire on June 15, 1775. God go with them!'
James then felt a great sadness come over him. And an overwhelming feeling of tremendous guilt.
Just then, an elderly man came up behind him and touched his elbow.
"I see you were looking at that plaque there, sir?" Remarked an elderly grey-haired man.
"Yes, it is very sad what had happened back then!" Replied James.
"You are not from these parts then, sir?" Enquired the elderly man.
"No, I'm from England!" He replied as the man put out his hand to shake his.
"You must know the story then?" He asked.
"That I do, sir, since I was a boy seventy years ago." The man replied.
"May I ask your name, sir?"
"Yes, sure, it's James Bellingham!"
The man's face became pale as he trembled.
"Ya, ya have ah, ah good day now!"
He then walked off in a hurry looking back at James a few times before turning around the corner.
James wondered why the man became so agitated. Then he walked into the church and had a look around. He felt uneasy, as if something evil was going to happen. His heart raced, and he felt panicky. Finally, he rushed out of the church, catching his breath.
James walked on and checked the other old buildings; soon, he came up to the old Mayor's office. Walking up to the door, he asked a lady guide by the entrance if he could take a look at the Mayor's office. She nodded for him to enter.
"Yes, this building has been around since the 1640s, sir."
"Can I see the Mayor's office?" James asked.
The guide showed him where it was. As he stared at the old desk and pictures, he had another vision. Appearing in front of him, he saw Colonel Bellingham talking to the Mayor and the blue coat, Peterson. The vision soon misted over.
"Are you okay, sir?" The lady asked, looking concerned.
James shook off the vision and gained his composure.
"Oh, oh!" "Yes, I'm alright, thanks." He replied. Just then, Finally, he saw the Mayor and a staff member walk to the office.
Now feeling tired and jet-lagged, James went back to his motel. He thought about what he would do tomorrow, then decided to go to bed.
Drifting into a deep sleep, James began to dream again.
At first, all he could see was darkness and nothingness; then, it grew lighter and lighter he was now in the church. But this time, he could see a packed congregation of people in the present day, kneeling, as the priest was reciting a prayer. Then, suddenly, everyone turned around and stared at the church doors - there was a ‘whoosh’ sound People looked horrified and started screaming as fires appeared in front of the door, preventing anyone from escaping.
A moment later, the scene became hazy and dark. Afterward, the haziness lifted, and James woke up. He lay awake for a few minutes believing nothing terrible would happen tomorrow, the destined date of the church fire.
Before James was flying back home to England this evening, he wanted to visit the church one last time. So, after packing his suitcase, he went to the church.
As James got near the church, he heard singing. Upon opening the door, before him was a packed congregation of people now kneeling in prayer. He sat at the back of the church and joined in the service. Moments after, the door opened, and in walked Mayor Johnson walked to the front of the church. “There is the traitor!” shouted a lady. Then everyone piped up, jeering and shouting at the mayor. He went to leave when a group of men grabbed him. “You’re not going anywhere, sir!” Said one of the men.
“What’s the meaning of this?" He asked, struggling to pull free.
Suddenly out of the crowd, the same elderly man that James had spoken to outside the church earlier said,
“You are related to Mayor Frederick Johnson?”
“So, what!” Replied the Mayor. “What is this all about, Mr. Donaldson?”
“It was he and two others who murdered our ancestors on this day in 1775.” “In this very church!”Said the man.
“But that’s no thought of mine!” Said the Mayor.
“Yes, you are right; you didn’t kill them, but you hold the curse!”
“What curse?” What about the other two men involved?”
“Why ain’t you got their relatives?” Said the Mayor.
“Oh, but we have one other, Mr. Mayor.”Replied Donalson, “He is right over there!”
Pointing to James. Everyone in the church turned around and stared at him. James’s face whitened as his heart pumped violently.
“There is Mr. James Bellingham. Colonel Bellingham’s great-great-grandson!” Shouted Donaldson.
There was a long silence; then people started shouting out.
- “Grab him!” “grab him!”
With that, some men nearby grabbed James and pushed him next to the Mayor.
“Your crazy!” James said. “What are you going to do?”
“Well, there is only one way to get rid of the curse!” Said
Donaldson. “Tie them up!”
Some men brought some rope and tied up James and the Mayor.
“Right everyone, get out of the church, and you men bring the Mayor and Bellingham!” Donaldson shouted.
“We can’t!” shouted a man, the doors are locked.
“What they can’t be!” shouted Donaldson!
Suddenly, through one of the church windows, there was a crash, then some fireballs of material were thrown through the window, and the church was engulfed in flames.
The Mayor looked at Donaldson and started to laugh uncontrollably.
“Well, Donaldson, It looks like you should have got the third relative!”
“My Guide, at the Mayor’s office, Mrs. Peterson!”