Strange tales, p.1
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           Philip R Benge
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Strange Tales
Strange Tales


  Philip R Benge


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  Strange Tales

  Copyright Philip R Benge 2012

  Cover Art Copyright Philip R Benge 2012

  Thank you for downloading this eBook. You are welcome to share it with your friends. This book may be reproduced, copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes, provided the book remains in its complete original form, with the exception of quotes used in reviews.

  Your support and respect for the property of this author is appreciated.

  This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.


  Matt Taylor had only recently moved to the wilds of Devon and he was starting his first day today at his new job. He had left early so that he could walk the mile and a bit down the country lanes towards Oakhampton where his office was located. He had decided to walk as it was such a nice day, and any way he had been putting a little weight on due to using the car too much. Ahead he noticed a very pretty young woman who was sitting on the garden wall of an old country cottage that seemed as old as the countryside about it.

  Matt had decided to try and get into the ways of the country from the start and so had been stopping to chat to all he passed, to the surprise and consternation of a few of his neighbours, but it would need no effort on his part to stop and say hello to this young woman.

  “Good morning, it really is a very nice day today isn't it.” Matt said throwing her one of his best smiles.

  “Good morning, but I'm afraid it has not got off to a good start for me, you see I seem to have hurt my ankle. Would you very much mind giving me a hand up to my cottage?” With that the young woman stood up, grimacing with pain as she tentatively rested her weight upon her injured foot.

  “No of course not, here put your weight on me." With that Matt put his arm around her waist and with her arm around his shoulder they tottered off up the path to her door. Matt was sorry for the pain that she was in, but he was delighted to be of use to her as it would then give him the opportunity to call again and enquire after her health. As she settled herself upon a chair the antique clock upon the mantle chimed the half hour and Matt realising that he had spent far too long socialising with all of his neighbours said his hurried goodbyes.

  “Look it seems I'll be late for my first day at the new job if I don't rush of now. Will you be alright if I leave you?" On receiving her rather reluctant permission to go, Matt rushed off, after wishing her well with her ankle.

  During his first morning in the office Matt happened to remark to his office Manager of his chance meeting with such a pretty young woman who happened to live in a very old and charming cottage, and how he hoped to see her again.

  “What charming old cottage down that lane?" Mr Boston said shaking his head. "Apart from a couple of old dilapidated farm houses and the converted barn owned by the yuppie couple I don't recall seeing anything even remotely resembling what you describe Matt, are you sure that you didn't dream it.”

  On laughing off his Manager`s doubts to his sanity and arguing on for a minute more the two men decided to walk down the lane during their lunch to find the cottage that had remained hidden from Boston during his five or so years that he had lived in these parts. The two men walked the length and breadth of the lane twice without finding any sign of the cottage and Matt was decidedly bothered after their efforts, but he knew that it was not all a dream. Back at the office the two men tried to find an answer to his problem.

  “Are you sure it was that lane that you walked down, I mean it was only the other day that you moved here Matt.” Boston said trying to give Matt a plausible answer to his problem.

  “Yes it is the only one that runs almost directly from my cottage to Oakhampton, I really don't know what to think, maybe I did imagine it, anyway when I find it again I'll make sure I don't lose it quite so easily.” With that the cottage was forgotten for the moment while the two men got back to the work in hand. Matt had to drive to work during the remainder of his first week, going via their factory on the way to the office and via their customers on the way home. This meant the cottage was forgotten until the weekend when he determined to find it again and pay his best wishes to the young woman. He had come to within a quarter of a mile from his office when the cottage appeared in front of him, complete with the pretty young woman, who seemed to be waiting by the gate to speak to him.

  “Hello again how are you this morning, is your ankle alright today?" Matt asked as he stopped beside her.

  "Yes it is fine now; I just needed a rest and a cold compress to put it to rights. Can I offer you a cup of tea in gratitude for your assistance?"

  Matt didn't need to be asked twice as he passed through the doorway of All Souls Rest, the name of the house was painted upon a sign hanging outside by the door. He soon found himself sitting in the conservatory at the rear of the house enjoying the company of the delightful Alice and drinking a cup of the most glorious tea that he had ever tasted. They spoke about his new cottage and his work, the brand of tea which Alice assured Matt he would never find as she had it specially blended for her by an importer in London, but she always steered the conversation away whenever he tried to find out about Alice or her family. Oh well if she wanted to remain mysterious then he didn't mind as long as he could look into her bright smiling eyes.

  After laughing about Matt and Boston's failed attempts to find the house and putting it down to their looking at the wrong end of the lane, Alice excused herself while she made some more tea. Matt got up to look at the small caskets that stood inside of a china cabinet, each one bore the name of some man or woman, he would have to ask Alice on her return just what they were. The house was extremely old and to his surprise he found that it didn't even have electricity or gas, how on earth did she manage to survive without them during the twentieth century. Matt must have dosed off due to the warmth of the sun and it was dusk when he awoke to find his heart beating at panic levels and beyond. His hair was literally standing on end and something inside of him was telling him to run, to run now, to run as fast as he possibly could or lose his mortal soul to an evil that even now was closing in upon him.

  Such was the level of fear that had arisen inside of him that Matt leapt up out of the chair and ran towards the door which, for a long five seconds that seemed more like five minutes refused to open. Then finally and thankfully he was through the door and on the path way that led to the lane, but Matt did not stop running until he had reached home and then he needed a large glass of whisky to try and steady his nerves.

  As his heartbeat began to slow he went over what had happened in his mind and although not a church goer he realised that whatever was inside of the house, that it must have been the intervention of God himself that had saved him from what would surely have been a fate worse than death. Matt went to bed early that night to live through his recent ordeal once again, only this time it was only a nightmare and just before he awoke in the morning drenched in a cold sweat he saw Alice standing by the front window of her house, looking at him as he fled, with a sort of wistful look upon her face. She probably thought him mad, all the same, mad or not Matt stayed locked up inside of his house for the rest of the weekend haunted by visions of something very ancient and evil that was coming to steal his soul away from him.

  When Monday morning finally came around again he drove to the office using the roundabout route that he had used for most of the previous week, this was so as to not to have to pass the cottage and whatever inhabited it. Boston his manager, on hearing Matt’s tale laughed
at him for running out on so lovely a woman as Alice was portrayed to be by Matt, and even Matt felt a little sheepish now that he was faced with the normal day to day life of the office, but he still had no intention of returning to the cottage, no matter how beautiful it's owner.

  Matt had to visit a customer just before lunch and so was away from the office when Boston decided to try and find this cottage that he had heard so much about. It was with some excitement that he set off at lunch time to track it down. Boston had been walking some ten minutes when on turning a bend he saw it before him, the most charming old cottage of anywhere just sitting awaiting his call, how he had missed it before he knew not, and in the front garden was the pretty young woman that Matt had described.

  “Good morning, I'm a friend of Matt Taylor’s and I have come to apologise on behalf of him for his bad manners of Saturday.”

  “Thank you, I did wonder just what was wrong with Matt, he did seem very upset about something. Why don't you come inside for a cup of tea and tell me more about you both.”

  Matt Taylor returned to the office just prior to dusk to be told by a troubled
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