The sound of my running feet dominated the silence on the moor. My heaving breath was visible in the cold air. A silver moonlight illuminated the ground and a fog was rolling in. My visibility was impaired and that made the sound of my running seem like everything. I headed uphill to escape the mist. I was lost. Although, that was the least of my worries. I was not trying to escape the fog. I was trying to escape what brought the fog.
Halfway up the long slope, I stopped. I tried to get my bearings. I could hear a crisp, continuous patter coming from the haze. The bulk of the cloud lay fifty meters away. How has it found me again? I stared intensely at it waiting for the inevitable. Waiting for my stalking horror. Then out of the fog leapt a dreadful shape. I was paralyzed.
Here was an enormous beast of a hound that had burst into sight. This supernatural animal stopped in its tracks and settled its eyes upon me. Fire burst from its open mouth, its eyes glowed with a smouldering red glare, its head and body were outlined in an electric blue, flickering flame. My brain was gripped with terror. This was the end.
The beast had turned its head and located me, its quarry, it started leaping up towards me with long galloping strides. Reason won through my mind. I turned and ran. It followed hard on me. These moments would be my last. Panic and dread gripped my every thought. Then I heard the beast let out an awful cry of pain. Three figures had appeared in front of me all holding revolvers and firing. I fell to the ground in a heap. The body of the immortal hound came crashing down on top of me. The three figures kept walking towards me emptying their guns. I scrunched up as tight as I could and buried my head in my hands.
With a last howl of agony and a vicious snap in the air, I could literally feel its breath on my neck, the beast fell lifelessly to my side. The shooting had stopped. I looked up at the three gunmen.
There was a tall skinny, bony, man, with an old fashioned brown cape and a deerstalker hat. Next to him was a plump robust fellow, well dressed with small round glasses. Next to both of them was a man in a knitted kangaroo onesie, all patchwork in orange, browns and blues. He even had a knitted balaclava shaped like the head of a kangaroo. They fell upon me as I was raving like a madman. It took a second to realise I had not been shot. It took even longer to realise that they were actually trying to help me and were not part of this insane nightmare.
The man in the deerstalker tore away at my shirt and breathed a sigh of relief when he realised I had not been mauled. The other two pulled the beast’s body off me. The shorter fellow then pulled a hipflask from his jacket. He removed the top and shoved it in my mouth. It was Brandy. It tasted good. I felt my senses start to be restored. The kangaroo man helped me to my feet.
I took a look at the terrible creature lying on the ground. It was a deformed hybrid; part blood hound, part mastiff. It was as large as a lion. Even prone and lifeless, as it was now, it was terrifying. The man in the deerstalker knelt down and rested his head on the beast's chest. His head snapped up and he said to the man in the kangaroo suit.
“Get him out of here, now.”
The kangaroo man grabbed my arm and started to pull me up the hill. I resisted. He pulled off his balaclava and I was looking at the fifty-year-old, Irish face of my old friend Liam.
“Trevor, no time to explain, we have to go.”
In surprise, I just followed. We ran towards the crest of the slope. At the top I turned back, in the moonlight I could see the other two figures arguing. They were sharing ammo and reloading their revolvers. Then behind them I saw the beast rise up from the ground. I tried to shout a warning. The beast breathed a burst of blue flame on to the man in the deer stalker, igniting him and sending him screaming and spiralling down the slope. The beast then turned to his companion and started tearing him limb from limb. It was horrific.
Liam pulled me away
“Trevor, we have to be quick now”
“What is it?”
“I thought that was obvious. That is the Hound of the Baskervilles.”
Turning away from the savage sounds we cleared the hill. Down below was a road with a familiar yellow car parked on it. Running after Liam I got a better look at his ridiculous knitted kangaroo tail. Bizarrely I could not stop thinking it was a miracle he did not trip over it. We were approaching the road side. Then a spine tingling howl emanated from the hilltop. Irradiated on its peak was the hell hound. Liam reached into his pouch and pulled out some car keys and opened up his door. It was an old bright yellow Lada from the 1980s. No central locking. Liam leant over and flicked up the nob on my passenger door. I clambered in just as he was starting the engine. He hit the accelerator. I looked through the back window. The hound surrounded in bluish hellfire was leaping into the road and beginning its pursuit.
The car was a piece of shit.
“Liam this is my car.”
“It is. If that dog runs us down, I am blaming you.”
“But I have had loads of cars, why of all the cars I have ever had are you driving this one.”
“This was the car I was allocated.”
“You hated this car, you gave me no end of hassle for driving this.”
“This is the only vehicle they would let both of us have.”
I was laughing. I loved this car when I brought it. It was a Lada 1600. It was the only car I ever brought brand new out of the factory.
“Hold on” said Liam. As he spun the wheel and pulled us down a side road to the right. This wrong footed the hound, allowing us to gain some extra space.
“Liam, why is it chasing us?”
“Not us, you,” he said pointing his finger at me.
“Why are you dressed like a kangaroo?”
“It is cold on the moors and this is surprisingly warm”.
The beast ran alongside the car and rammed it.
“Trevor, how fast does this trashcan go.”
“On a good road, it would struggle to reach ninety.”
“Ninety! Jesus! We are dead.”
The hound rammed the car again, spinning it round. The headlights illuminating the surrounding moor. The impact had stalled the engine. It had also tripped the beast sending him stumbling and rolling ahead. When we finally came to a stop the hound was now thirty meters ahead of us. All animal. It was standing proud like a silverback gorilla. Facing us; its nostrils flaring and eyes blazing red in the night.
“Liam, ram it”
“You can drive a Lada through the front room of a house, and still keep going. They are made in Russia they are tough”
Liam restarted the engine and slammed on the accelerator. The car lurched forward painfully slowly. This model could do 0-60 in three and a half weeks. Liam struggled to force his way through the gears. This was blind stupidity. We might not even reach thirty before impact. Then magically the engine surged. The beast’s eyes opened in alarm, quickly it put its head down and ran off into the moor. We were free, heading back the way we came.
We came back to the junction. To the left was thick with fog and the turn to the right looked clear. Liam turned left into the fog. He then turned off all the headlights, leant right up onto the steering wheel and peered out of the windscreen into the unknown. He turned to look at me.
“We can lose him in the fog”
We were now facing two threats. We could either face death by hound or we could face death by wrapping ourselves around a tree through racing a Russian tin can, blind.
I will give credit to Liam, he was fearless. He guided us down that road with some true speed. Twisting and turning the wheel with an exact precision. He looked good. He was having fun. We talked and joked about the old times. He teased me about the Lada and we talked about our boys. The fear disappeared like magic.
I had something I needed to get off my chest. I looked at my friend driving and said.
“Liam, about ten years ago, I attended your seventy-fifth birthday at the Waverley Club.”
“That’s right it was a good do.”
“Liam you do not look a day over fifty”, I said, “What’s going on?”
He pointed at the sun visor above my head on my side of the windscreen. I flipped it down and looked in the mirror. I barely recognised myself. I was thirty. No grey in my moustache. I had hair. Lots of hair.
“It is the Lada”, Liam said, “and I do not look a day over forty-five”
“We are the age we were when I brought it?”
“Now listen Trevor, this is important. You are going to start thinking you are dreaming.”
“Well there is the kangaroo suit.”
He hit the brakes on the car and skidded to a halt. The outside of the car was still shrouded by the thickest pea-souper. Visibility was nil. Turning to face me he said.
“You are in real trouble. You have been for a while. We have been helping you. This is not a dream. You are lost and we have been trying to fix this.”
“Who is ‘we’?”
“Mary has been sending us. She has been looking after you.”
“Liam are you dead?”
He just smiled.
I continued. “Why is Mary not here?”
“Your wife is an excellent organiser. She is however a terrible driver. Do you think with Mary driving we would have escaped the hell hound?”
I laughed. “No I suppose not”.
“I cannot help anymore; it is time for you to make a decision”.
Then with that he flicked the headlights into a full beam.
Twenty meters in front of the car floodlit in the fog were two doorways. On the left was a green door and on the right was a purple door. I should have been surprised with this strange turn of the events. Yet with everything that had already happened it seemed logical. Almost familiar. The doors seemed to be old acquaintances. I know them. One of them could have even been my front door. If I could have even remembered, then where I lived.
I turned to Liam,
“Which door leads to Mary?” I said.
“I do not know. Even if I did I am sure I would not be allowed to tell you.”
“What do I do?”
“You get out of the car and pick a door. You do it now. These doors are very tricksy. They keep moving and are very hard to find”.
We shook hands and I hugged him. He had a small tear in his eye. I climbed out and stood in front of the two doors. I closed my eyes and just tried to remember. I steadied my breath. I listened to my instinct. I walked over to the purple door and turned to look at Liam. He was waving and smiling behind the steering wheel. As I opened the door a blinding white light spilled out and swallowed me whole.
I cannot breathe. I am drowning. Panic. I try to open my eyes. I cannot see. I am blind. BEEP. What is that noise? There is a shadow beside me. BEEP. The pain. Everything hurts. My body feels like rock. BEEP.
“Hello Dad, you are in hospital. You are in Charles Nicole.”
The voice is calm, slow, melodic. I listen. BEEP.
“You are in the ICU. It is amazing. It is like the star ship enterprise. Machines and screens everywhere. Your own room. Your own nurse”
I open my eyes. It hurts. I am in a white room. BEEP.
“No stop Dad, that pipe is helping you breathe. Hold my hand. I love you.”
I listen. But oh boy, I am tired. I think. BEEP. I think I will try and sleep a bit more. BEEP. I wonder what was behind that gre...
Tom watches as his father goes back to sleep. He gets his book back out and reads some more. After half an hour, he sees the nurse nod at him and point at his watch. He then returns to his station. The Intensive Care Unit has strict visiting rules. He says goodbye to his father and kisses his bald head. He puts his jacket on and walks out to the corridor. The rooms are clinical, sterile. The corridor is different. The exterior of the doors are all colour coded, from head to foot. He is happy dad got this room. The room with the purple door. His mum, Mary’s favourite colour. He thinks it has to be a good sign. A sign that she is out there somewhere. Still looking after him and still bringing him home.
This is based on a coma dream my father Trevor Bradbury had three years ago. There was no way for him to know the colour of the door to the room he resided in as it could only be seen from the outside. He had a number of these dreams with a number of curious adventures, most of them culminating in finding a purple door and returning back to the hospital. All of them posed questions about where he had really been. He eventually successfully recovered and returned home. It was only then he was told about the significance of the door. Later on that year he got to go through the green door and I know my mum, Mary, was there waiting for him.
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Hi Tom, very interesting origin of the story. Good suspense. I liked it!
Hi Tom! I really enjoyed this, from the fantastical details like the kangaroo suit and the hound to the eerie scene-setting. The story is especially fascinating because of your relationship to it. It’s very well told. Polishing-wise, you might consider going through to edit and make the writing a bit more active. I noticed you used a lot of had/was sentences which could be edited to make the action more immediate. For example: “It was standing proud like a silverback gorilla.” Could be: “it stood proudly like a silverback gorilla.” Small...
That's really great advice and feedback, thank you.
Wowwwwww! Let me just start there. At first, I'm thinking isn't he describing the Hounds of Baskervilles. Then it was. I am short of words, beautifully written and suspense driven. How did you write this so fast though? A great work in just few hours? This might seem stupid but are you the Tom? If you are, I am so sorry.
I am the Tom. Who is the Tom? Nothing to be sorry for. This was one of my deleted stories returned back to where I first wrote it. I have reworked it a couple of times since then. I have just published a new, new piece for this week called 'Wishing Well Questions'. I have had a flock of sheep to lamb over the last few weeks so I have been busy being a midwife that is why I have not been around. Thank you for the feedback.
The first two lines though. Have you named the lambs yet? If you have time outside taking care of your flock, I'd really appreciate if you could read my stories and give me feedback.
All of them are named. I will get to one of the stories over the weekend. I will load up your page and leave it as a tab so I dont forget.
Okay, thank you. What are their names?
There are almost twenty?
Okay, thank you. What are their names?