I haven’t finished the story yet.
It’s odd that something which I started purely to waste time whilst a blog post wasn’t working has now become something which I feel I must finish. It’ won’t be tonight however as it’s 11:30 and I have work in the morning. I’ve reached what might be the halfway point.
In fact, I might as well do this thing in two halves. Here’s the first part. Please bear in mind it’s been ages since I wrote any kind of short story so I’m open to it being torn apart and/or kicked to death.
HUNTERS OF GODS AND DEMONS (Part 1)
The advertisement in the newspaper had stood out on the page. ‘Adventurers wanted’ were the bold letters on the top of the column, framed by requests for scrap metal and antiques. The page was already upon the café table when I took my seat. Before the coffee had arrived I had examined the wording twice, trying to fill in the missing details as I went along.
‘Long Lost Gods And Demons To Discover.
Please Phone For Details’
I had carefully torn around the edges of paper, stealing the words for myself so nobody else may enquire before I was able. My breakfast arrived and I quickly placed the scrap of paper in my pocket as if it were a contraband substance. The waitress had looked at me, noticed the hole in the middle of the page and possibly thought better about asking why. In between chews of bacon and pancake I had fumbled for my phone to dial the number. There had been no answer and so I had left a message in a low voice. Only a couple of fellow diners raised their eyes from their phones and magazines upon hearing me mention gods and demons. After leaving my number I put my phone back on the table, watching the screen go black after a few seconds.
The frantic moments seemed to have passed. Everybody around me appeared to be going about their day as normal yet my mind still whirred on what creatures could be living nearby that would warrant somebody’s help in finding them. This place was fairly rural with one road running though it. The occasional gathering of buildings were placed almost only to break up the monotony of trees and rocks. It was hardly an opening to hell.
The phone began to buzz across the table, causing the gentleman next to me to tut loudly as it broke the atmosphere. My hand dived to scoop it up from the table before answering it.
“Hello” I said cautiously.
“Were you calling about the demons?” came the voice of a older man on the other end.
“And the Gods as well” I replied.
“Are you close to the mountain?”.
“About a twenty minute drive”.
“Excellent, I’ll meet you in the car park and explain more there”.
He hung up. Leaving the money on the table I paced towards the door, rattling around in my pocket for the car keys as I went.
The drive was accompanied by the sounds of local radio, a phone in about the price of the postal service and how deliveries were being cut down. The sun cut low through the branches overhanging the road. ‘Drive Carefully’ the signs read ‘Beware Animals In Road’. The voice of a now former postman chimed through the car as I pulled into the parking space.
There was initially nobody else around. I switched off the engine yet kept the keys in the ignition. There I sat for a good five minutes or so watching through the windscreen for any other movement. I heard myself speak out loud, in the privacy of the car, saying this had all been far fetched and nobody was really there. If anybody was then they were currently looking through the undergrowth at a man who had fallen for the gag.
Then, from over the brow of the nearby hill, hobbled a man in his 50’s. He carried a stick in his left hand and wore beige trousers and a checked shirt. On his feet were a pair of brown walking boots. He scanned around the car park, holding his free hand over his brow to stop the sunlight from hitting his eyes. He squinted in my direction before slowly beginning to walk over.
I opened the car door and before I could stand he was extending his hand towards me. “Philip Braithwaite” he smiled alongside a jostling handshake “Sorry about not answering the first time, not much mobile reception in the caves”.
“Caves?” I asked.
“Indeed” he said with a shine in his eyes “Certain creatures don’t like the broad daylight you see”.
He reached into his pocket and brought out a head lamp, the kind that miners use. “You might well need this old boy” he said. I wrapped the soft cloth around my head ensuing the light was facing front. Philip had already turned around, walking back in the direction he had came from. Without turning back he cried “Good to be keen, follow me”.
The stick was no barrier to his movement. I launched myself over rocks and across streams which lapped away at the forest floor. I had only a few moments to look up and see him becoming a small speck in the distance. “There’s a footpath soon” he bellowed back to me. Maybe, I thought to myself, this is some strange man with stories to tell and I should leave him to those. The thought of giving up and just allowing him to walk on ahead occurred to me and yet it was instantly replaced by the question of why anybody would place an advert in the local newspaper asking for help in whatever he thought he would discover.
We arrived at the base of the mountain. The promised footpath had faded away under the feet of many walkers. The wind flowed softly across the grass. Philip held his stick up and tapped it on the stone. “People often imagine Gods as being up in the sky” he pointed upwards “Yet many are here on Earth hiding from us”. He ran a hand across the rocks and stared at them. There followed a few seconds of silence then, without turning to face me, he announced “We need to get inside this”.
“The mountain?” I asked in disbelief.
“Oh yes” he answered as if this was completely normal.
“The tourist entrance is just up the path”.
“Dear sir” he exclaimed “Do I look like a tourist to you?”.
He held out a hand and pushed his fingers between two rocks. Before long his arms had followed and the rest of his body was vanishing into the stone folds. Slowly he pushed his way further. As his shoulder became absorbed he turned to me.
“Best be following me if you want to see this, it doesn’t hold open for long”.
He held out his remaining hand and I grabbed it, cautiously walking after him with small steps. His body pushed forward, his face disappearing into the stone. Soon my arm followed. In my mind I thought the jagged rocks would shred me, my body tense to the expectation of such an event. When the time came a few seconds later it was like being muffled by a large blanket. The tweeting of the birds outside soon faded to be replaced by a low rumble. I could see nothing ahead, only taking comfort from the fact I still had hold of Philip’s hand.
“We’re nearly inside” came his voice, echoing around the darkness “Just a few moments longer”.
It was like standing behind an industrial drill. The vibrations continued making me feel like my brain was rattling inside my head as small fragments of stone dropped from above and bounced on the ground below. I wanted to cover my ears but I could not let go. I was, it would seem, between two worlds. At the moment I thought the noise could not get any louder it stopped as if somebody has disconnected the power. I stood for a few moments, my eyes still closed, until I was sure I was on solid ground. As I took a deep breath back in I felt something poke me in the shoulder. Peering out with one eye first I focused on Philip prodding me with the end of his walking stick.
“We’re here” he said with obvious glee.