Monday, 27 October 2014

"Whistle and I'll Slaughter You": The 2014 Ben Chatham Halloween Special Part 1


The last days of October, when the darkness of night drapes the sky like a shroud and the crisp air grows sweet with the aroma of fallen leaves. Magic and mystery abound, the shadow realm beckons and the veil that separates the world of the living from the world of the dead grows thin. The great wheel of the year has completed its cycle and the time of endings and beginnings has arrived. This is Halloween.

The train rolled swiftly through the countryside of southern England as Ben Chatham sat gazing languidly out of the window of the first class compartment. The Autumn leaves glowed yellow and orange in the sunshine and Ben reached up and opened the window slightly, allowing some of the fresh, cold autumnal air to flow in. He couldn't face the hassle of driving and was pleased he had taken the train instead. He felt relieved to be getting away from Cambridge for a while and from the continuing stress and pressure of running an organisation such as Operation Delta. Katie Ryan had offered to accompany him on this trip to Somerset however she had changed her mind due to being asked to spend the weekend canvassing in Cambridge for UKIP. Ben didn't mind, he was pleased to get away from her and to get away from everyone. He sank back into his seat and thought of his upcoming divorce from Emma and the stress of dealing with the financial implications and also with his parents. He felt trapped in a  dull, routine-filled life in which lurching from one crisis to another provided the only variation from the drudgery of work and loneliness. A sudden burst of frustration caused him to slam his hand down on the table hard, causing his coffee cup to spill over. An elderly lady in the seat opposite frowned annoyingly at Ben, who secretly wished that she would suffer a heart attack and die. As he tried to mop up the coffee with a tissue, the train guard approached:
"Its ok sir, I've got a cloth here. I saw your accident. I'll replace the coffee with a fresh cup."
The guard was young, around twenty, with dark hair and Greek looks. Ben had enjoyed looking at him earlier as he had brought the first coffee and had watched his smooth buttocks as he had flounced down the carriage with the tea tray.
"Thanks for helping me. What is your name?" Ben asked.
"Fabian", the young guard replied, blushing.
"Why don't you take a break, Fabian and join me for a coffee."
Ben felt a pang of excitement as Fabian brought the coffees and joined him.
They sat talking and Ben soon discovered that Fabian lived in the same village as Ben was heading to, Lower Binningfield.
"I've been invited to see the iron age burial site excavation site and give a lecture to the archaeologist team on hill forts and the religion and rituals opf their inhabitants", Ben explained.
"Hey my car is at the station, I could give you a lift to the village if you like. Where are you staying?" Fabian asked.
"At the Green Man Inn", Ben replied, smiling as Fabian stroked his hair.

Arriving at the station, Ben and Fabian got into Fabian's open top sports car and drove through the fading evening light towards the village. Ben let the cold air blow through his golden hair:
"You know, I wish I could just walk away from my life and stay here. Never go back. Say goodbye to all the boring life and dreary familiar people that are holding my back, like my father and insufferable wife."
"You are married?" Fabian asked. Ben smiled:
"Don't worry. It was a marriage of inconvenience that will soon be over." They laughed.
They arrived at the Green Man and Fabian carried Ben's suitcase in for him . The bar was deserted, apart from a stern looking landlady with a beehive hairdo.
"I'm Ben Chatham. I'm booked in for three nights here." The landlady scowled and threw a key across the bar:
"Upstairs, second room on the right", she stated tersely.
"Could you bring us up a bottle of your finest red wine please and two glasses," Ben asked her.
"No drink in the rooms. Drink here in the bar or go elsewhere", the landlady replied.
Ben was bemused however he and Fabian went upstairs to the room:
"What an icy female. No wonder the bar was empty," Ben exclaimed as they entered the room and Ben threw himself on the bed.

Ben spent the night with Fabian and fell into a deep sleep. When he awoke he could see the light shining through the curtains and reached over to the side table for his watch. As he did so his hand felt something else and he lept up in horrified shock. It was a dead raven with a sprig of woodbine through its heart. Ben turned around to wake Fabian, however the latter was gone. On Fabian's pillow was an old wooden whistle, covered in dried mud. Ben picked the object up and examined it. It was very old and had Celtic inscriptions down the side which were partly worn away......

to be continued.

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