First soul, p.1
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First Soul


  First Soul

  Keeley Smith

  Also by Keeley Smith

  Pendle Hill trilogy

  Returned

  Before

  Change

  Soul Keeper trilogy

  First Soul

  Copyright © Keeley Smith

  The author has asserted their moral right under the

  Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.

  All Rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, copied, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the copyright holder, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

  A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library.

  I dedicate this book to my siblings because I certainly wouldn’t hear the end of it. In age order so you don’t fight:

  Phillip- you are the second oldest of us -I’m the first so I’m the most important!- but this book isn’t about you, I should feel bad about that...hmmm....

  Deyna- you are crazy, loud, blunt, strange, did I say loud? These are compliments I promise! Seriously though, I can imagine it is amazing having a sister like me!

  Stephen – you are nothing like the character in this book, or are you....? I’ll let you decide... just to help you, I like both Stephen’s equally, although the book version is braver, smarter, probably better looking... not sure where I’m going with this...

  Thomas – don’t be put off by the character in this book, I’m sure you will grow into him some day... I didn’t mean that... you just wait for the next book, your character will be amazing but then I’m a writer, your character’s fate could change...

  For the serious stuff now - thank you for letting me use your names, it’s not like you had a choice, ha!

  I love you all!

  To my lovely grams, you will be missed every day but I know you are finally at peace, I love you.

  To the three boys – Michael Spragg, Liam Walker and Kaylam White who gave me some great ideas to start this book... I’m not entirely sure the ideas were used but you get your name in a book, how cool is that?

  j

  CHAPTER ONE

  Amblewood.

  Population: 839

  Amblewood, far more populated than any other hamlet in the whole of Britain, was a quaint, mostly quiet place. It sat in a deep, green valley of connecting streams of cobalt blue that trickled through the valley like tiny veins giving life to the flamboyant maple trees that were dotted around the large patchwork of rolling farm land and hills.

  At this time of year the cool breath of autumn caressed the once green leaves creating what looked like a sweeping fire from up above. The fierce reds and glowing ambers added warmth to the now brown, slightly dead looking landscape.

  A small cluster of thatched cottages sat within this deep valley, subtle pastels and vibrant whites amongst the popular colours used in this hamlet. Every cottage displayed a pretty selection of flowers in small, well groomed gardens.

  Some would say that Amblewood was the perfect picturesque village. This was true. On the outside looking in, it was perfect. It was the opinions from within that differed greatly.

  Many of the people living in Amblewood were over the sixty mark, therefore they spent the majority of their days watching morning television and gossiping over their waist high fences, their silver-grey hair still housing curlers whilst tattered dressing gowns hung off tired bodies. From their perspective, Amblewood was the perfect place to live.

  If you were to split the rest of the population in two, you would find that one side still resided in school and the other working in the school, they couldn’t escape, or you were given jobs in the few shops that were situated in the hamlet. Prospects beyond the hamlet were often the result of a lazy, summer’s day dream.

  A small school, large enough for the population of Amblewood, was positioned to the north of the cottages. The two buildings, nestled within the trees, provided a great sunning spot in the summer. Unlike most school age children, you could find many of them spending their summer within the school grounds.

  In the richly cobbled centre of Amblewood stood a single war monument, only two names were etched into the grey stone: Michael Spencer and Liam Wilkins. Amblewood residents never left the little hamlet, even to fight in the war, however, the above sixty group often reminded the younger residents about the sacrifices of war, it wasn’t like they‘d made them themselves, their names weren’t forever immortalised in stone.

  Strategically placed surrounding this monument were a nice selection of small shops, each shop, again like the cottages, were painted in their own unique colour.

  Billy Butcher’s shop had always been present in the hamlet. His shop was a deep shade of teal with splashes of duck egg along the windows and the door. It was thanks to Billy Butcher that the residents could say hello to a lovely cow one day and then enjoy it for dinner the next. His large sign stated: ‘Billy Butcher, your local butcher since 1621’.

  It is said, by the eldest residents, that in the summer of 1621 a group of walkers stumbled upon the little valley. There, positioned in the middle, sat a small cottage surrounded by trees and streams. The walkers fell in love with the cottage and from there Amblewood expanded becoming what it is today. Billy’s family were the first to name the hamlet.

  Sitting alongside the butcher’s was the post office which was a deep red wood in colour. The building was an odd shape resting crookedly between the butchers and the bakery. The majority of the school children stayed away from the post office as Mrs Riley, the post office manager, was often seen angrily running after them with a sweeping brush in her hands. No one knew what angered Mrs Riley, no cared to get close enough to ask, although the younger children loved to tease her. It made life in the little hamlet a little less tedious.

  The bakery, the largest shop in Amblewood, was the colour of marshmallows, a soft combination of pink and white that made your mouth water just by looking at it. The smell of fresh bread and cake mix enticed both children and adults, it was considered student heaven; especially if Eloise decided to create her special variety of cupcake which was a large fluffy based sponge filled with vanilla butter cream and finished with a sprinkling of crushed smarties.

  It was no doubt her best seller.

  If you asked the teenagers what they thought of Amblewood, they would say the adults loved living here. The teenagers were very adept at avoiding the questions asked of them.

  If you listened to the idle chit chat over the fences you were likely to hear at least one adult comment on the lack of pollution in the area or that the traffic was light. Traffic was indeed nonexistent in the hamlet and this was mainly because the adults never left Amblewood. The only other type of traffic usually consisted of the occasional tractor which, for some unknown reason, didn’t seem to annoy the residents of Amblewood as much as they annoyed the entire
population of Britain.

  If you were to ask the adults about the children’s thoughts on Amblewood, they would say that the children loved living here. They had no clue whatsoever that the children longed to escape and that they made numerous attempts to find danger at every opportune moment. At least two children weekly were rushed to the hospital, situated some fifteen miles away, with broken bones in their desperate attempt to instil some fun into their boring lives.

  The children hated the full spread of green land that travelled for miles around them. It was a vast open area that made them feel suffocated.

  It was a prison of hills and overbearing parents.

  Three teens, who hated living in Amblewood, were making their way to the cemetery as part of their Friday night jaunt. They’d survived Amblewood for sixteen years and the taste of freedom on the tips of their tongues was too much to handle, so visiting the dark, cold cemetery helped with their boredom.

  They had Amblewood fever; children were known to crack under the pressure once they reached their final year in school. Unfortunately, if you showed one small break in your armour you would become a target and would often hear the words: ‘each step towards school leaving age, leaves you becoming more deranged.’ If you were lucky, or rather unlucky, these words were often sung to you.

  It was Friday night, for the three teens it was danger night. Stephen Evans was your average sixteen year old. He’d shot up in height during the previous summer making his body skinnier than it usually was. He had broad, wide shoulders, and despite the rather scrawny looking body, those shoulders could tackle you to the ground, the thought alone made your lungs collapse with pure fear. He wasn’t captain of the rugby team for nothing. His dirty blonde hair, cut into a jagged mess so the strands stuck out at odd angles on his head, was purposefully styled with Amblewood’s very own styling mousse. You had to use the entire bottle for it to work.

  “I don’t see why we have to go to the cemetery tonight.”

  Stephen glanced at Phillip; they walked with their hands stuffed deep in their pockets trying to ward off the vicious bite from the wind as they headed towards the dominant, black gates of the cemetery.

  Stephen couldn’t understand why Phillip hated the cemetery so much; it wasn’t like his mother’s body rested in this cold place. Like his did. Plus there was nothing to worry about, the dead couldn’t hurt you, it was the living that did. Stephen also knew that Phillip could handle himself if anything did happen; he’d seen him do it. On the other hand, he also knew that Phillip was an overly cautious person; Stephen justified this thought with the bone counter. The bone counter was important in Amblewood, it made you popular, it put you on the map. Phillip had only broken two bones in his life.

  Phillip’s first broken bone had been Stephen’s fault, he would admit to this one, if forced. One glorious summer’s afternoon had found him and his small group of friends enjoying the sun at the back of the school. They’d grown restless so Stephen had decided to start a game of rugby. Stephen had tackled Phillip whilst showing off his new moves, in hindsight he shouldn’t have tackled him so hard, and so, five seconds into it, Phillip was shouting at the top of his lungs in pain.

  Phillip had landed heavily on his hand, even now Stephen shuddered at the thought of it. A hand should never, ever, take that shape. Having thrown up what he’d had for lunch; Phillip travelled straight to the hospital where the doctors instantly gave him something in a very sharp, very big needle. Once the medicine was taking effect, the doctors snapped the bone back into place, apparently it would have healed bent if they hadn’t twisted it back. To be fair to Phillip, that break had been the worse break he’d ever seen.

  The second breakage was a little more exciting, in Stephen’s opinion, although he was sure Phillip would view it differently. They’d been climbing the trees in the cemetery for fun, it was a Friday night of course, so Stephen had suggested a little healthy competition between fifteen of the boys to see who could climb the highest. Stephen had cajoled Phillip into it so technically, it was his fault.

  They’d scrambled rather well up the trees at the beginning; the position of the low branches had helped. Occasional snaps from branches sounded around them followed by loud curses and laughter. Some had already stopped but Stephen, Phillip and two rugby players were still going strong.

  He’d just moved his footing and remembered thinking that he would have to stop soon- the height was making his head spin-when he’d heard a loud snap and a strangled cry. He’d turned around to see Phillip crashing down to the ground, breaking many thick branches on his way.

  Stephen had tried to reach out to his friend but he’d watched helplessly as Phillip fell and hit the ground with a sickening thud. For a beat of his heart, Stephen thought Phillip was dead until he’d moaned in pain. Fortunately it had only been a very painful broken leg and several cracked ribs. Phillip had been the talk of the hamlet.

  Really, Phillip should thank Stephen for making him look so tough. Toughness equates to popularity in Amblewood.

  Stephen laughed at Phillip’s expression as they neared the cemetery entrance.

  “What? I don’t see why we have to come here?” Phillip repeated with more force in his tone. His annoyance was clear. Stephen just didn’t care to do anything about it.

  “Because we’ve come to the cemetery every Friday since we were six. Where else would we go? There’s nothing to do here.”

  Living in a hamlet this size, and not forgetting the lack of crime, meant that parents were not afraid to leave their six year olds out late. There wasn’t anything to worry about so he didn’t understand Phillip unease.

  Phillip rolled his eyes, the light catching the vibrant blue as he pushed his hand through his short hair. The dull glow from the street light highlighted the many shades of brown as his face showed the beginnings of his temper, the lines around his eyes, the pulse in his jaw.

  Since his mother’s death, Stephen liked to feel he was close to his mother whilst he visited this place, although he never actually went to her grave. It was still too raw. His father couldn’t care less where his son was which meant that Stephen had free rein over his actions making him seek danger all the more.

  He knew every teenager wanted this freedom but when they had it, they missed the concern from their parents. Phillip had parents that cared about his safety therefore he was more aware of danger than Stephen. Stephen pushed aside the thought, it hurt to think that no one cared, and because no one cared, there was no reason to fear anything as there would be no repercussions.

  “There’s plenty of things to do, Ste. We could watch a DVD tucked up warm in bed.”

  Stephen laughed which received a scowl from Phillip. “You sound like an old man.”

  “Yeah, well.” Phillip shivered and pushed his hands deeper into his coat pockets. “I’d rather be warm than trudging through an old, creepy cemetery.”

  “Well, I don’t mind our weekly trips to the cemetery,” Deyna piped up.

  Stephen knew she wasn’t partial to joining in with their repeated bickering, but coming to the cemetery was, in a morbid way, the highlight of her week. She’d told Stephen this in one of her ‘girl tells everything’ moments. He’d found out that day she’d also started her periods. There were some things even he didn’t want to know, and that was one of them.

  Deyna was a very pretty girl, verging on womanhood. Her eyes were the colour of mouth watering granny smith apples that stood out against her creamy skin. The flush of tulip pink in her cheeks from the cold wind made those eyes sparkle. Her long ash hair was pulled back into a high ponytail. She was a little plumper than the other girls in school, when he thought of plump, that was in comparison to the girls in school who were rake thin, so technically, she wasn’t fat. She was often the victim of mean, nasty comments because she was different and didn’t conform to the typical school rules of loving the latest boy band or piling makeu
p on her face to hide the spots that was caused by the amount of makeup.

  Stephen and Phillip were her closest friends, having known her since nursery they didn’t care what music Deyna liked or whether her face looked orange, well, he would care if it was orange and he would tell her, but they just liked Deyna for who she was. Stephen often thought that it was a great shame others weren’t able to see how funny and smart she was. The snide remarks thrown at her from the other girls hurt; Stephen could see each nasty adjective slap her across the face and he hated it.

  They defended her, himself and Phillip, as best they could but they wouldn’t hit girls. He couldn’t abide bullies but he wouldn’t raise his hand to a girl. He chanted this often because he’d come very close on more than one occasion. Why were girls so bitchy? Boys just had a punch up and after half an hour most things were forgiven.

  It was Stephen’s personal mission to seek revenge on Rebecca Sanders, the one who would flaunt around school like she was the IT girl with her perfect blonde hair and skinny-as-a-rake body. Why girls were so thin he couldn’t get his head around; he’d often wondered what was so appealing about it.

  You might as well get all nice and cosy with a twig.

  “See, if Deyna isn’t bothered about our visit to the spooky spot then you shouldn’t be either,” Stephen shouted directing the comment at Phillip who’d walked ahead.

  It didn’t help that Phillip had a stubborn streak a mile long and they would continue to butt heads over this. He supposed their stubbornness was their only similarity. Deyna was the first to bring them back together if they’d had an argument which was more often than not recently. She wouldn’t let them fall out completely and he knew that it was wrong of him to depend on it. Deyna jutted out her chin and walked quicker so she didn’t have to walk with either of them.

  In his quiet moments even Stephen had to admit that they’d grown apart. He knew what was to blame, himself, he just didn’t know how to restore their friendship to what it had been.

  “So, whose garden are we camping in tonight?” Phillip asked to break the awkward silence whilst he scuffed the loose dirt with his trainers.

  Deyna shrugged her shoulders as she sat down on her usual patch of wet earth next to a large, faded grey headstone. There weren’t any words engraved into the stone. This had always interested Stephen.

  “We were at my house last week so it’s someone else’s turn.”

  Every Friday was sleepover night which meant they would each take it in turns to host. The sleepovers started because of one night in October when Stephen was only seven years old.

  It had been late, nearly midnight, when Stephen’s father so consumed by alcohol and hate had lost control of his fists. Stephen had struggled to sleep after losing his mother, the nightmares always found him, and he’d made the mistake of seeking comfort from his father.

  Fleeing the house as fast as he could, Stephen had run bare foot through the hamlet making his way to his friend’s house. He’d knocked meekly on the door and remembered feeling nervous. How could he explain why he stood at Phillip’s door wearing his pyjamas with no shoes? He didn’t want others to know about his father. He felt shame, embarrassment and fear, and even now he tried to hide it.

  Phillip answered the door rubbing sleep from his tired eyes, his tiny frame covered by superman pyjamas. He’d yawned and begun to ask what was wrong but he soon found out that Stephen was unable to speak, tears pricked his eyes, a lump had restricted his speech. Phillip didn’t ask anything further. He’d taken him inside and pulled out the spare sleeping bag with the help from his mother and father who also didn’t ask questions.

  It had been the first Friday night sleepover and since that day it had become a tradition between his three friends, with one exception over the years, Deyna now had her own tent.

  Stephen missed the naive simplicity of being a young boy. He missed Phillip, he missed their friendship. Stephen knew that there was a point in every friendship where it was already too late to build bridges and he felt like they were at this point. It was make or break between the two of them.

  “I would rather not have it in my garden this time,” Stephen spoke up fearing that he would have to tell them eventually. Nothing ever remained a secret in Amblewood; it was one of the annoying things of having to live in such a small place. Everyone was sure to find out your business.

  “My dad is on the war path because I didn’t muck out the horse.”

  Deyna shot Stephen a look, one that said she couldn’t believe how stupid he was at times. He just shrugged his shoulders having nothing to say in response to her scowl. They’d been here before. It wouldn’t matter if he mucked out the horse or not. He was sure he would still feel the shock from his father’s fist at some point in the day. The days never passed without some form of physical abuse.

  Stephen found when it came to his father he was torn between gut wrenching anger and the unconditional love one feels towards a parent. He couldn’t help hoping that his father would one say see sense.

  “Surely it would be easier on you if you just did as you were told,” Deyna sighed, “Then you wouldn’t be on the war path with him every waking minute.”

  “Life would be doubly boring if I was a good little boy and did my chores,” he joked but his smile didn’t reach his eyes.

  He’d never outwardly spoken about his father’s temper; it was just easier to joke about the problems between him and his father than to face them. How could he begin to describe how he felt? This was his life and there wasn’t anything he could do to change that.

  Phillip shook his head. “Sometimes you can be stupid, Ste. You need to take responsibility for your life. When are you going to grow up? We have only a few months of school left and you still haven’t decided what you are going to do. Surely you want to get out of this place?”

  Stephen shrugged his shoulders replying to these questions like he always did. With silence. What was he meant to say? He didn’t know what he wanted to do. At this moment his priority was to try and survive one day without his father’s fist finding some part of him. They couldn’t understand that.

  Why should he be silent? He hadn’t committed a crime by not knowing what he wants to do in life. He was entitled to change his mind.

  “Maybe I want to be a farmer! Maybe that’s the life I’m meant to live. I’d rather be a farmer than some snotty nosed brat!”

  He regretted the words as soon as they left his mouth but he couldn’t see sense past the angry red clouding his eyes.

  “What? Like me you mean? Is that what you’re saying?”

  “Maybe,” Stephen sneered.

  “Well, I’m sure working with your daddy will be great!”

  Stephen clenched his fists, Phillip must know about his father’s temper, he’d have guessed after the years, but to joke about it spending a life working under the man especially when he was already so highly strung, wasn’t the best idea. Any mention of his father would do this to him.

  The farm had deteriorated since his mother’s passing. When he thought of working on the farm, his heart stumbled making it hard to breathe. He had visions of his mother’s smiling face as she rolled carelessly along in the little tractor, her laughter dancing with the warm summer breeze. They had one horse and they’d only kept it because his mother loved her. He couldn’t sell the remaining memory of his mother but he also couldn’t bring himself to muck it out, some days were harder than others. His father never understood.

  Stephen knew that Phillip had big plans to leave Amblewood, like most teenagers at school leaving age, apart from him. Some made it, some didn’t. Phillip was moving as far away as possible and he was going to become some sort of intelligent, big shot doctor in the city. He was the smartest one of the group, what he lacked in strength, he made up for in brains. Stephen didn’t doubt he would make something of himself. He just hated that he always mentioned it and compared him
to every person who had made a decision about their life.

  It was starting to grate on Stephen’s nerves the way that Phillip seemed to think he was above him because he didn’t know what he wanted to do yet. Some teenagers took their time deciding such an important, life changing decision. At moments like this, especially when Stephen was thrown into the limelight for his stupidity, Phillip seemed to talk with such airs and graces it made Stephen want to wallop him with his fists. Stephen could do anything he wanted in life. He just didn’t know what he wanted to do, yet.

  Which sixteen year old did?

  Stephen looked at the smug smile on Phillip’s face and felt outrage course through him. Phillip didn’t see the anger that flashed in Stephen’s eyes, nor did he see the fist that was about to connect with his head. Stephen couldn’t control his temper; he’d always struggled with it.

  Excitement danced with fury as he watched his fist connect heavily against Phillip’s face. He vaguely heard Deyna shout, as she usually did when the two of them started to fight. She’d witnessed them fighting before, of course they were boys and boys did fight, but she had probably never seen them fight with this much hatred. Stephen wasn’t holding back this time. Something had clicked, had they gone past the point of no return?

  Phillip landed on the floor, his butt hitting dirt. Hard. Stephen watched as he rolled over and jumped to his feet. Phillip’s lip was cut, the blood already pooling there, he obviously didn’t care, he shouted something incoherent and charged at him. Stephen hunched his body so that the impact wouldn’t be so severe. Phillip’s shoulder smashed into his stomach forcing the breath to leave his lungs, he wheezed as they went down onto the floor in a heap of fists and curses. They continued this way until they had very little energy left.

  Panting, they stood and glared at one another. Both of them wanting to go on but the lack of energy restricted them. The split lip looked like it hurt, Phillip wiped his mouth and winced. He could feel the beginnings of a bruise forming around his right eye, Phillip had given him one hell of a right hook. He nearly grinned with pride as Phillip’s lip quivered into a small smile, one that mocked him. The humour of it made Stephen’s anger, already brimming, bubble over. Stephen charged at Phillip, lifting him off his feet and running with him.

  They crashed to the floor as a boom shook the ground beneath them. It was loud enough to wake the dead. Birds flocked flapping madly into the night as feet scattered on the wet ground which signalled the woodland animals retreating from the danger.

  Stephen felt like a tractor had rolled over his body as he lay surrounded by a murky grey plume of smoke. Had a bomb exploded? He coughed and sucked in more dust. He could hear Deyna coughing but he couldn’t see anything. His eyes stung as dust settled and irritated them. He rubbed them but that forced the particles to scratch his eyes. What was the dust? Where had it come from?

  He groaned, rolling over onto his side, and felt a sharp throbbing in his ribs. They’d crunched heavily against something; he definitely felt their agitated twinge. He stood, minding his annoyed ribs, and waved his arms trying to clear the dust, it didn’t help as he hissed in pain.

  “Ste, Pip, where are you?” Deyna called.

  “Here,” he coughed.

  “I don’t exactly know where here is, you idiot!” Deyna snapped.

  She stepped towards him, a look of angry impatience on her face as her eyebrows collided in the middle of her head and her lips were tightly pulled into a thin line. The dust had evaporated so they could finally see what had happened.

  A headstone, it was hard to judge which one, lay in pieces around them.

  “What have you done?” Deyna whispered, looking at the pieces in horror.

  “It was him!”

  Phillip rolled onto his back and pointed at Stephen. Stephen rolled his eyes feeling more annoyed than angry. Phillip would continue to blame him for the headstone, that was like water off a duck’s back, and it also aggravated him that he felt guilty for hitting his friend. Phillip still hadn’t got up off the floor. Was he seriously injured? He felt the pang of regret deep in his gut. Phillip had started it but it was no way to treat a friend. He growled in frustration.

  “No. You brought my father into it and you know not to do that.”

  “Oh, I wish both of you would grow up!” Deyna exclaimed, her voice screeching with exasperation.

  Sighing and throwing Phillip an irritated glare, he smacked off the chalky dust that had been left by the headstone and approached Deyna who was already inspecting the remains. He knew now that it was the headstone Deyna usually sat next to.

  “Oh my, look at this.”

  Deyna was tugging on something that seemed to be encased inside the chalky remains. What could possibly be in a headstone? Was it part of the person? If it was that could actually be rather exciting; he knew that Deyna was going to scream as soon as she started pulling on bone.

  Phillip, who had now stood, was also staring at Deyna with interest. Stephen walked over with Phillip, the fight between the two of them already forgotten as they concentrated on this new find.

  “What is it?” Phillip asked, peering at it like it was about to explode.

  Deyna pulled off her gloves and started attacking large chunks of the headstone, pushing them away like a dog unearthing a bone.

  “Errrmm, should you be doing that?” Phillip asked her, nervously looking around.

  Deyna turned and sternly looked at them both. “It hardly matters now that the both of you went kung fu on it.”

  She had a point.

  Stephen bent down and helped her. The stone crumbled too easily beneath their hands. He avoided eye contact with Phillip, an awkward phase would usually follow until they apologised, if they apologised at all. The mention of his father was the main culprit of their fights, Phillip knew this and yet he still continued to mention him, Stephen couldn’t help wondering why. Still, Stephen didn’t like to see the wounds on Phillip’s face, wounds he’d caused with thoughtless, useless fighting.

  Fighting that would one day end their friendship and he didn’t want this.

  They continued to pull at the soft chalky stone; it also helped him release his anger. Surely a headstone should be a little more stable? This headstone felt like a stick of rock that you would buy at the coast on a summer’s day but had been forgotten about, only to find it six months later and learn that it had turned really soft. This headstone wouldn’t have held up in bad weather, yet it never showed a crack and they’d been coming to this cemetery for years. The headstone, he knew, had never been changed.

  The final chunk fell away revealing an old, stained piece of rolled up paper. Stephen pulled out his phone and turned on the camera light as Deyna gently pulled the paper from its casing. The lights in the cemetery were few and far between and they’d purposefully chosen a spot in the cemetery away from lights just in case the police were patrolling. Not like they ever did, this was Amblewood, but if you were caught it was instant parental verbal abuse for having embarrassed them in front of the only local authority figure.

  With shaking hands, Stephen could only assume it was adrenaline, Deyna wiped the dust off the paper and opened it.

  “It’s a map!” she exclaimed. Stephen moved closer to get a better look.

  Several lines that could only be paths zigzagged around the paper. He could see already that many were dead ends. Sharp triangles, that he assumed were cliffs or hills, were positioned everywhere. They lived in a valley so this could mean the many hills surrounding them.

  He couldn’t see a chest full of treasure on this map. Maps usually showed where the gold was, well, he’d seen films where it did. But, the question remained, why would a map be in a headstone? The dead person couldn’t have put it there unless the person had been buried alive, and he seriously doubted that. He’d hope the person was already dead before they landed in their final resting place down in that deep, mud l
ined hole and they were unlikely to crawl back out and put it there. A loved one could have done it? But the stone didn’t have a name on it. A loved one wouldn’t leave a headstone without a name.

  Another question quickly followed the first, where did the map lead to? What could be so important around here that a map had to be hidden?

  “What do you think you’re doing?!”

  The three of them jumped at the sound of the angry voice behind them. Years of hiding and now, on this night with a map in hand, they’d been caught by the police. Chuffing great.

  They turned slowly and as they did Deyna shrieked and grabbed Phillip. Stephen looked at her and noticed that her eyes were rolling into the back of her head; at least Phillip was there to hold her. Phillip appeared to be handling it better, although the colour had drained out of his face. It wasn’t Karl, the local bobby.

  A middle aged man looked at them rather sternly. His translucent frame floated as it near them. Stephen held his breath, as actual ghost drifted ever closer to them. He’d never believed in all things supernatural and he found himself still searching for the special effects. It didn’t have feet, the bottom of what looked like trousers seemed to sink into the wet grass. He shook his head and closed his eyes believing this to be a dream, or some sort of practical joke.

  Opening his eyes, he found the ghost still stood in front of them, its face was contorted with anger as it tracked their every movement. Speaking of its face, the features weren’t right, especially when comparing it to normal human features. Stephen could see the mouth of the ghost; it was set in a hate filled snarl. The ghost had hair the colour of good strong coffee which was cut in the short, back and side style required for the army. He could see a nose but it was partly blurred due to the fact that he could see straight through it.

  He’d always believed ghosts judging from films to be some sort of a shimmery white form but this ghost looked rather like the man he’d probably been when he was alive. Apart from one thing and it set his teeth on edge with fear, the eyes. They were bottomless black pits, the eyeballs weren’t there. But somehow, even with them missing, Stephen sensed them glaring at him.

  He stood on his own because the others had backed away pretty quickly, and faced the ghost. The ghost’s body glowed brighter and as it did, expanded in size. It was at this point that Deyna and Phillip tried to run from the cemetery. They didn’t make it far, their bodies froze with fear when they realised what was happening. Stephen stepped back and joined his friends, fearing the worse.

  The ghost stopped expanding and moved towards them as if it was going to wrap itself around them to block any escape route. He sucked in a breath, heard Phillip do the same just as a high pitched scream flew out of Deyna’s mouth.

  j

  CHAPTER TWO

 
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