Fear inThe night, p.1Robert Clarke
Fear in the night
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Fear in the night
Copyright © 2013 by Robert Clarke
Revised May 2014
All rights reserved
Cover art copyright of the author, © 2013
Fear in the night
She fumbled clumsily in her jacket pocket and pulled out her mobile phone and looked at to see if there was a signal and also get the time. She strained her eyes to see the screen in the dimming light. The sky became increasingly darker with every minute that passed. Dam it! She looked up at the clouds building up overhead and the wind tugged at her back pack slowing her down even further, making it seem even stronger, as it blew around the farm buildings that she passed along the track up to the moors that provided shelter up here for the animals. Now even small branches peeled away from nearby trees and raced across the path in front of her, Grace felt an uncomfortable sensation deep in her stomach, was she scared she asked of herself? The week had passed quickly that she had spent travelling on her own but now she was far from help. A thought entered her head, perhaps I shouldn’t have come up here at all! She started to question herself now, how could she possibly have been so foolish. To believe that she could manage by herself should a problem arise? What if I were to break my leg in a fall or become ill with food poisoning or get bitten by something, her thoughts seemed to be running on overdrive and allowing her imagination to run riot, but it was no use letting such prospects enter her mind now? After all, she only had herself to blame she told herself, and now it occurred to her that if she didn’t want to spend the night out in the rain, she was going to have to arrange a modest form of shelter in the shape of her tent; and be soon about it. Pushing the negative thoughts of her mind aside, she looked around for a suitable place to set up camp. Her heart jumped with fright as a flash of lightning appeared in the sky and she felt her pulse quicken. She stood still and waited until she heard the sound of the thunder that inevitably followed; when it finally did arrive, it too startled her, banging loudly around her ears, it seemed to carry on for ages, rumbling incessantly, but was probably only a second or two. She had, ever since she was a child, hated the thunder. She thought back to when she had been a small girl of seven gardening with her father. They had enjoyed the day but it turned stormy very quickly, much like tonight had, and although she hadn’t seen the lightning, the thunder that accompanied it came loud and clear and made her jump so hard she fell over into some nettles that stung her legs and made her fear worse. Her father had rushed across to pick her up when he saw her fall but she had burst into tears and cried uncontrollably while he tried in vain to console her, telling her it was only God moving his furniture around upstairs in heaven. She didn’t believe it then and even now after studying at Uni, she knew the psychics behind the sound, but it still sent shivers of fear through her, remaining the part of a storm that always put her on edge the most and she cringed as she felt its timbre reverberated in her ears while it dissipated.
She looked around with even more urgency for the suitable place to set up for the night. She couldn’t stay out in the open much longer and with another lightning flash considered getting under some nearby trees. But just as quickly decided against it, feeling it might be just as bad as most were shrunken and dwarfed on the moors and offered little in the way of protection from rain let alone lightning. Then she noticed nearby, an outcrop of rocks running along by a small hedge. This might do, she pondered, then came the fight again with the wind making her unsteady on her feet as she moved. Attempting to get in as close as she could to the stone outcrop, she swung her rucksack off her shoulders and onto the ground. Bending down she started to unpack her tent from her rucksack, pulling the ground sheet out first, and laying it clumsily down she reached for some large stones to place on it in an attempt to keep it secured until she could lay out her tent on top. One hand on the sheet, one holding a stone in place, and her right foot stretched across keeping the rest of her things from blowing away completely. The small tent became a kite, rather than the secure place she would hopefully be climbing into for the night, as the wind got underneath and raised it up into the air the young woman held on tenaciously to one end for fear it would disappear into the moor never to be seen again. She pushed it down forcefully as best she could in an attempt to get it to stay flat. It crossed her mind that it might never stay still long enough to anchor it to the floor. First one corner then the other would raise itself into the air and flop around like some demented drunk, trying to resist her futile gesture at finding shelter for herself. Pushing in the first peg she felt it slip deep into the soil and now with one end secured she raced to stabilise another three. Finally she had three corners attached to the earth. The last one was more difficult as the ground seemed harder this side, but eventually after she avoided some stones that lay underneath, it too succumb to her persistent attack. Now all she had to do was feed the narrow rods through to support the roof and she was finished but even this seemed easier than it turned out to be in the ongoing wind. Finally she placed the last rod into the tag at the bottom corner and the tent stood erect. opening the zip on the front of the tent she pushed her head inside, followed by the rest of her body through the narrow opening and pulled in her knap sack behind her. Once inside, with the semblance of security surrounding her now, she began to feel less nervous, even though the wind began to howl even more as it pushed in the sides of the tent which waved around in tune with gust as they came. She glanced at her phone again, fifteen minutes was all it had taken to get the tent set up, and she felt mildly pleased with herself, but conceded that the onset of bad weather had helped to encourage her finish more quickly than perhaps she would have done. She rummaged through her rucksack digging down to the bottom and started to pull out the things that she would need to use now. Taking her little stove out and unfolding it carefully she placed it in the front of the tent near the door and using her spark lighter she lit it up. It took two tries before it would light but as it took hold and settled to a constant steady flame she warmed her hands which had become quite cold. Opening her flask, she poured some water into a container and placed it on the heat to boil. Her bed-roll soon lay along one side of the meagre tent with her sprawled on it the wrong way round on it facing the stove. The little LED lamp she had brought was placed around her head for illumination and soon a hot drink was ready to be consumed. She offered up the small cup of coffee to her lips. She could feel the rising steam travel up her nose as she breathed in, it smelled and tasted good; supportive, comforting, slowly driving away many of the worrying thoughts from her mind. The next challenge was to find something to eat, probably hot she thought, as it looked like being a cold night ahead. The packet of freeze-dried stroganoff quickly came to hand as her fingers fumbled through her backpack once more. The preparation and consumption of her meal soon became but a memory as she lay back on her bed roll, pulling her beanie hat tightly down around her ears to keep her warm. It was no good, the cold of the evening crept up to her and she realised she would have to climb inside her sleeping bag if she were to stay warm. Off came her boots, as she let her legs slip smoothly inside the nylon fabric, any notion of getting out of the jeans she was wearing was soon defeated.
The LED lamp on her head shone bright enough for her to read the pages of a book she’d brought to read, her concentration became increasingly disturbed as gust after gust would push forcefully against the tent moving her forward as she attempted to read and move the light away from her book she held. Calmly she settled
She felt her eye lids becoming heavier and slowly starting to close; then her arms weighted with the book became an effort to keep up and even the thunder and lightning had ceased and she hadn’t noticed. She switched off the little light and took it off her head placing it carefully next to her pillow so as to be in easy reach in the dark, should the need arise.
Even though the lightning storm had passed the wind howled and blew so hard, trying many times she thought to drag the little tent away. She woke many times during the night, when the side of the tent she had rolled up against would push into her back, sometimes so forcefully that it moved her. Tugging and pulling at the fabric of the little tent, but it held its ground and would not give way to the onslaught. Restless in her sleep, she dreamt of things creeping up on her in the dark or being exposed to the rain, that she thought was now falling on the roof of the tent, but it was only leaves from the nearby trees blowing down onto her, as the seemingly fragile fabric was ripped forcefully from around her sleeping body. Sleep held the terrors that waking would not allow her to experience.
As she slowly made the transition from unconsciousness to consciousness, the morning arrived and she felt she hadn’t slept all night; then she became aware that the noise of the wind had abated and the sides of the tent were no longer in a constant state of movement but were quite still and being lit with a dull red glow. Slowly, she untangled her arms from the sleeping bag raising them into the air in front of her for a stretch. Her legs were next to follow as conscience proper returned to her and she became fully awake. The comforting warmth of the sleeping bag was replaced with cooler air as she released herself from the cocoon that had held her all night. With haste she checked her boots for creepy crawlies and finding none they were deftly returned to her feet. Now she felt, more sure of herself, and prepared for anything that the day might throw at her. Her hands drew the zip of the front flap up as she climbed slowly out on all fours into the morning sun which was starting to rise in the Eastern sky and felt its warm rays already playing on her body. Standing up stiffly she stretched again this time flexing her fingers and surveyed the landscape and absorbed the beauty that lay all around her. She felt a little ashamed of herself for doubting her ability last night, when faced with her own fears. But now as the morning began with birds singing and the blue sky above and the promise of warm tea and breakfast ahead, she felt a new strength and confidence. Yes, truly she was alive and pleased to be so and no longer afraid, no longer driven by irrational thoughts. Sheep appeared on the moors in front of her as if out of nowhere, the day was ahead of her and she was ready. Fear is driven by wild imaginings and loneliness, made stronger by the cover of darkness, but watered down when in the company of light, unable to keep its form in a rational mind.
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