The Chairman finally left at dusk, leaving the newly weds alone at last. His smile was still as bright and strong as ever, as if his face had been painted, his expression hadn't changed since he had arrived.
Derek looked to his wife held in his arm as he closed the front door,
"I thought he'd never leave," he sighed.
"Don't be so harsh, he was only trying to be nice."
"Yeah I know, but he should have known we had a lot to do, we have so much to sort out before we can even consider going to bed."
"I never imagined how much work moving house actually involved," Janet said, "You take down stairs and I'll make a start in the bed room."
"Sounds like a plan," Derek smiled and kissed Janet before she could escape his embrace.
Richard finished pitching his tent just as the rain started. It would be a very stormy night, and a great chance to test out the new tent, his only hope that it wasn't faulty like the compass. His head touch lighting the inside; he distributed his equipment evenly on either side of the tent, weighing it down just in case the worst happened. He then rolled out his bedroll and sleeping bag and lay down on top, his hands behind his head, looking up at the single moth that had managed to get inside the tent with him. He smiled, as he listened to the rain pelt the outside of his domed tent,
"Looks like I have at least one friend to keep me company tonight, though I'd rather my wife was here with me. Just stay up there and not bother me 'k."
There was a sudden tapping on the tent and Richard looked to the tents entrance,
"Who is it?"
"Are you busy?" A boy's voice asked.
"Well, not right this minute, and I'm guessing your names Anthony?"
"Oh yes, it is, sorry, I only ask cause Michelle's dad, er, the chairman, wondered if you were okay out here. The weather may get worse, and he has lots of spare rooms in his house if you would rather…"
"No it's okay, I could do with trying this new tent out in a storm, the stronger the better to be honest." Richard interrupted, "tell him thanks for the offer though."
"Well, okay, I know I wouldn't sleep in a tent in a storm like this." The wind took its cue and howled past to make Anthony's words sound so much more impressive.
"Hey kid, camping in storms like this is far more fun than camping on dry peaceful days, but each to their own I guess. Just one question before you go."
"That large building in the village with all the old stone work, the one with the flat roof, do you think the chairman would let me climb it sometime tomorrow?"
"I wouldn't know, but I can ask him if you like?"
"No, no need to do that, I can ask him come morning. Now you better be getting back indoors, you must be soaked to the skin by now in this rain, your parents will have your hide."
"Don't need to worry about that, both my parents died a few years ago in a car accident."
"Oh Christ, sorry I…"
"It's okay, lot's of people say the same, I've gotten use to it now. Mr Archer, the chairman, he's the godparent to both Christine and me. But like you said, I'm getting soaked out here, I'll see you in the morning, hope your tent stays up."
Richard listened to the young boy run off over the sodden field. He waited for a few moments, listening to the rain play against the outside of his tent, trying to find away past the waterproof surface. Then he looked up to the moth and smiled again,
"Keep an eye on the place will you, I've something to attend to."
He got up and unzipped the tents entrance and left, making sure to do the tent up again to keep the rain out. Pulling his waterproof coat over himself tighter, he clutched at a strange looking medallion that hung about his neck, and walked out into the stormy night.
The moth was soon left in darkness, but at least it was dry.
Gordon Rufus, the temporary replacement vicar, wrapped his black cloak even tighter about him as he rushed through the heavy rain to the church. He wasn't sure how long he would be staying in this village, but he was certain he wouldn't let anything happen to the church while he was here. A storm like this could do costly damage, and he wanted to make sure that didn't happen.
Unlocking the heavy oak doors, he pushed them open and entered. The wind started to howl through the old building the moment the doors had been opened, and that meant another part of the church had to be open as well.
He struggled to push the doors shut once again, and then dropped the wooden bar across them to keep them closed.
He removed his sodden coat in the darkness of the building, the wind still howling outside as the rain pelted the stained glass windows. He found to his annoyance that the electric lights had stopped functioning, but had had the foresight to bring candles and matches.
"The things I end up doing," he muttered, and walked deeper into the church, a candle held aloft, looking for something to first dry his hands and face before his inspection of the building would start.
Janet sat on the small sofa with a mug of her favourite hot chocolate, her other arm draped over her husbands shoulder,
"I thought we'd be finished tonight," she said exhausted.
"I can remember when my brother moved house with his wife a couple of years ago. Took them a month to get all settled." Derek replied.
"Yeah, but they had over five times the amount of stuff we have, and they had a little baby as well."
"I know. But I think it will take us at least a week to get properly settled. We got a lot done today, and we might get as much done tomorrow."
"Honey, it's almost one in the morning, it is tomorrow."
"Really? I hadn't realised the time. I better check on the car, make sure everything is all locked up."
"Do you have to go now?" Janet wined.
"The sooner I go, the sooner I'll be back." Derek said standing up, "it's the only bad point about this house," he continued as he pulled on his coat, "the garage is all the way down the road."
"I know, but all the garages are down there together, it means it's safer for the kids as the cars aren't allowed near the houses, I quite like that idea." Janet said.
"It's still a bit inconvenient," Derek said zipping up his coat and pulling over the hood, "I'll be back as quick as I can."
"Just don't get lost out there."
"Honey it's only a small village, getting lost is the least of my problems."
Derek kissed his wife and left through the front door and into the pouring rain. Janet watched him from the window until the darkness of night swallowed him from sight. She stood at the window for a time, listening to the rain hit the glass over and over. A shiver suddenly ran through her spine and she quickly closed the curtains. She returned to the sofa and her hot coco, wrapped a blanket around her and hugged her mug.
The mug was soon empty and Janet asleep, the cold of the night unable to reach her.
Christine felt a tug at her quilt cover and then a push on her arm. She could hear the rain still pouring down, and as she opened her eyes a fraction, the digital clock on her dressing table shone 01:16 in red LED light. The push became more insistent and was now followed by a young girl's voice,
"Wake up sis,"
Christine moaned and turned to face her younger sister Stephanie, only five years old.
"I can't sleep," Stephanie said, and it was all too evident that the young girl had been crying, her face red and damp from tears.
"Nightmares again?" Christine asked, trying not to show any annoyance of being woken.
Since their parents had died, Christine had taken on the role of mother to her little sister. Even though Michelle's farther was their godparent, his wife had died in childbirth with Michelle, and he really couldn't act much like a mother. He had allowed them to stay in their own home, paying all the bills, and letting Christine act out the role of mother to her brother and sister. The rest of the village chipped in to help, and were pleased that the arrangement had worked so surprisingly well.
Stephanie nodded her head, and Christine moved over so her sister could climb in and cuddle up.
"This is becoming a habit," Christine said as she held her little sister close.
"It was horrible," Stephanie said, and started to cry all over again as she remembered the nightmare.
Christine comforted her sister and rocked her until she fell asleep in her arms. She tried to get as comfortable as she could, her sister's head resting at the base of her neck, and only allowing her to pull the covers up so far.
Knowing her shoulders would get cold; she reached to the dresser with her free arm, and pulled her T-shirt over them, making sure not to cover her sister's face.
There was a lot of her mother in Christine, and she didn't really mind when Stephanie wanted to be held. She had been the same herself when she was little, so she knew how horrible nightmares could be.
Christine looked towards the curtained window, the rain still falling outside, and realised Anthony was going to win the bet, only for some reason it didn't matter anymore.
Ben Harper, a young 20-year-old man with short dark hair and green eyes, awoke to find himself in a room he had never seen before. He soon found himself to be tightly bound, hands and feet, to a stone pillar, but he hadn't been gagged. His curiosity was a little greater than his fear at this moment, and he studied the room some more. He was alone, the room being empty but for himself, the cold stone pillar he was tied to, and another stone pillar that stood in front of him on which rested a violet coloured crystal. The crystal was the size of a large fist, and the only source of light, which gave the room a purple tint. The walls of his prison had been carved right out of the bedrock itself, old and musty.
The two-meter high box like room appeared to have no door, and Ben Harper would have considered this some sort of twisted dream if the pain in his ankles and wrists had not been so real.
Part of the wall in front of him suddenly lifted up into itself, and a dark cloaked figure entered through the new opening.
"Who are you? Why am I here?" Ben asked, ignoring the fear that started to fill his gut as best he could.
The figure, hidden by its black cloak, did not answer, but it did start to chant in a strange language Ben could not recognise.
"What are you doing?"
Ben was getting frantic, his fear was building in time with the chanting, a horrid voice that didn't quite sound human. As the chanting grew louder, the crystal became brighter, becoming so intense it was like looking straight at the sun.
Ben was too filled with fear to even think now, he was helpless, and somehow new his life was about to end.
With suddenness Ben wasn't expecting the chanting stopped, and a silence hit Ben so hard it popped his ears.
Slowly a single sound made it through the soup of silence, the sound of his own heart beating so rapidly in his chest that he thought it was trying to escape.
The cloaked figure then raised its hand and pointed a bony finger in Ben's direction and said one last word.
The crystal leapt to the command, sending an intense beam of bright purple light straight at Ben Harper.
Ben screamed in agonising pain as the beam struck his chest and sucked the life out of every cell in his body, he twisted and withered under its light and the stranger looked on with a smile.
Ben's scream was short lived, and silence soon returned to the small stone room. The cloaked figure nodded towards the skeleton, the only remains of Ben Harper, even his clothing had disintegrated into dust, only his metal watch had survived the blast.
The skeleton nodded back, a violet glow surrounding all the joints, keeping it together, and its eye sockets glowed an even deeper violet.
"Now go and build my army!" the cloaked figure said with the same detached and inhuman voice.
The skeleton moved forward and passed the figure, walking out of the stone room with jerky, yet quick, movements.
"This village will be the first, and many more will follow, the time for my return has finally come!"
Inhuman laughter suddenly filled the room, before the cloaked figure turned and left, sealing the crystal in it's protective tomb.
Hi this is now in print! and can be found at my part of Lulu, just follow the link to my homepage. I've left this story up far longer than I had intended, but now I feel the time is right to remove most of it from this site. A new project is looming in the wings. - Ed