Frank Parry pulled his coat tightly shut and shivered in the early morning chill, not uncommon at this time of year along the canal bank. He checked the time on his wrist watch, as he made his way steadily towards the ominous black demolition barge. He would be spending the next several days operating the bulldozer crane, with it’s wrecking ball, as it slowly cleared the area of the old Ravens Gate works. If he was lucky, he’d be retained by the company after he’d finished tearing down all the remaining structures, that had once been the beating heart of this decrepit Victorian Industrial complex.
The watch on his wrist said it was, 7.07am and the first glimmer of another dawn, lit up the sky to the East. It promised to be, another cold but clear day and bright mornings like this one, cheered up his whole outlook on life. The freezing depths of the winter had passed, and now work on all of Tullett’s major contracts had resumed and would undoubtedly continue, until conditions became too dangerously cold and dark, for work to safely continue.
Frank had been told that he had been assigned this one, because it was seen as one of the more pleasant work details. It was given to him, as some kind of reward, for completing his fifteenth year with the company at Christmas. However, he suspected it was more likely due to the simple fact that he’d previously worked on the Barton Basin Project and so, had some familiarity with the general area and type of work required. Since this was the first day of the new contract, Frank was getting himself and his allocated equipment, ready for the task in hand on that first morning. He liked to give himself as much time as he could, to acquaint himself with the local conditions before he started any serious work. He peered both left and right through the early morning light and observed, that for as far as the eye could see, in both directions, the towpath was clear of people.
Away in the distance, the modern span over the waterway, hummed along as it usually did on any given weekday morning and looking up, the occasional jet aircraft streaked silently overhead, leaving only a ghostly trace, in the cold blue canopy. He looked at the structure before him and tried to envisage, what it must have been like, in its heyday. Once, this canal had hundreds of souls traversing its banks, but nowadays, since the last of the factories and smaller workshops had closed down, driven out of business by the advance of the modern world, the towpath had slowly become more, or less deserted. The time passed silently by and it had now been almost forty long years, since Gary Turner, the last employee, of Shacklady’s Spring Factory, walked down this now lonely pathway, for the last time. Only a few local residents still used it to walk their dogs or as a convenient short cut between points along the bank, which could not be travelled faster, on foot or bicycle by the local roads.
He stood on the bank, next to The Ravens Gate Bridge and looked at the brooding black outline of the ornate structure, as it crossed over the still waterway. The rotting metal archway merged into the giant wrought iron gates, with their Cast Iron Ravens perched upon its peak, reaching skywards. In this light, the factories silhouette looked like, that of an ancient city, long deserted and forgotten by men. It was as if the memories of those who had once lived there, had somehow become dulled and oblivious to it’s existence. As he stood by the water, looking again at this bridge in the gloom of the new dawn’s light, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of ominous foreboding. Frank, shuddered involuntarily and then speedily made his way, along the steadily warming gravel, towards the huge barge that was going to deliver the death blows, to this old Victorian Installation.
As he approached the monstrous hull of “Sheila,” he noticed, that below the letters of her name, there were others, recently repainted, in a pristine white and they read, “England.” Alongside, somebody had deemed it fitting, to have a billowing Union Jack. As he passed by the stern of the vessel, he shook his head, as much as in pity as in commentary on the crass ignorance, that such a display of nationalism engendered. He, was Welsh, born 36 years ago, in what was now an ex-mining village. He had been forced to seek work in foreign climes, when his time came. The idea, that England alone, was considered to be Great Britain, both amused and infuriated him, in equal measure. This kind of arrogance was nothing new and he had come across similar instances many times before. So, this minor affront, was quickly forgotten as he reached the swinging chain, which would allow him to pull the concealed ladder down to ground level and so, gain access to “Sheila’s” deck. He quickly checked the canal bank, in both directions, for passers by, so as not to allow, anybody to observe the means of gaining easy access to the deck, before pulling it.
Once aboard, he pulled the ladder back up and having stowed it away, made his way to the bow and swiftly reconnoitered the job at hand. From this lofty position, twenty feet above the water, he could easily ascertain what needed to be done and in what order.
First, was the obvious need to get “Sheila,” over to the opposite bank. Next he would have to off load “The Panzer,” his affectionate name for the caterpillar treaded dozer, which conveyed the wrecking ball and giant scoop bucket around the area, to fulfill its primary function of destruction. Frank smiled as he considered how much fun he could have, if “The Panzer” really was equipped with a long turreted, swiveling gun. Whether, it was a 88mm Howitzer, or 15 tons of directed heavy metal ball, the end result would be the same.
However, first off and before any destruction could begin, he was going to have to get “Sheila,” over to the opposite bank and then off load “The Panzer.” He rummaged around in his pockets, for the keys to the cabin situated at the rear of the vessel. When he had located them, he immediately set off across the decking, and after slipping the last couple of restraining ropes, that held “Sheila securely to the bank, he cast off. Then, heading for the wheelhouse, whilst at the same time planning his next move, he placed the serrated teeth into the lock and turned the key. This was his domain.
Frank, loved it inside these cabins, particularly when they were reopened after a lengthy period of idleness. He felt, at his most comfortable, when the air was thick, with the rich aroma of fuel oil, mixed with a shot of diesel. 'Does it get any better than this?' He thought, as he imbibed a deep breath, of the polluted cold air and moved across the floor, towards the ignition switch. Frank felt a palpable rush of excitement, as he grabbed hold of the wheel and pressed the ‘On’ button, twice. He heard the pistons rudely reawakening and sparking back into life after their Winter long slumbers, with a deep growl and a drumbeat that seemed to come straight from within the boundaries of the underworld. He took one more, deep and personally invigorating lung full, of the chemically enriched air that purveyed the cabin before the fresh air, found it’s way in and dissipated the unique aroma.
Frank, his head feeling a touch light from the inhaled vapors, merely pushed the joystick hard over to the right and smiled internally. The surface of the water churned, as the propellor coughed into action, like some great ravenous beast aroused from a long period of hibernation, that was now seeking a meal. 'Sheila,' had truly re-awoken and she set off on her journey across the water, to her new mooring, on the opposite shore. The distance quickly lessened and it was only a matter of a few seconds, before the great engine, was turned off and inertia would be allowed to do the rest. Very slowly, the hulk of the great black barge, closed on the far shore. The sound of rubber tyres pressing up against wooden moorings, signalled to Frank that it was almost time to fire up 'The Panzer' and disembark.
He placed 'Sheila' in neutral and cut the engine, before exiting the cabin. Once outside, he looked around and quickly re-acquainted himself, with the familiar layout of 'Sheila,' who was the company’s oldest, waterborne 'Killer Barge.' Frank, then reached up underneath the dark cowling and his dexterous fingers, unfastened the sides of 'Sheila’s' multi layered raiments and pushed hard. The side initially groaned, then dropped easily outwards, onto the banking with a loud crash. Frank quickly stepped down the makeshift ramp and deftly tied 'Sheila' to the mooring rings. Then, after taking one last look at his demolition instructions, he set off for 'The Panzer’.
As he was about to climb onboard, he paused for a moment and looked at the Ravens Gate Works, trying to decide where to attack first. He needed to gain easy access to the complex, without damaging The Bridge, The Gates, or The Sculpture. These were the features which dominated the entry way and they, were to remain intact, while the rest of the old tar works, was to be utterly demolished to allow the total renovation of this entire basin area.
The desired preservation, of the entranceway’s oldest and most impressive features, greatly inhibited any free movement of equipment, on, or off 'Sheila.' Frank, stood and stared at the great rusting edifice. Looking to the right, he considered if it was possible, to squeeze between the bridge pillars and the sculpture of the rising birds, guarding the wrought iron entrance way. It formed a monument to the power of the Industrial Revolution and if he was being honest, he would have to admit, that he found it all rather impressive. His experience told him this would be a very tight squeeze. In reality, when he looked more closely, it was not really a matter of choice. To the left, he could clearly see there was a narrow strip of dry land, barely wide enough to accommodate 'The Panzer' but just beyond it, the cold waters of the canal beckoned. Frank knew, that if he were to lose, 'The Panzer,' in the cutting, his employment at Gerry Tulletts’ Yard, would be drastically curtailed.
“To the left, or go for the right option. Either the water, or the bridge. That is the question?” He theatrically said and waved his arms, melodramatically around, for maximum effect, as he uttered the words. He quickly mounted 'The Panzer,' then fired the girl up and released the brake. The great machine, eased him forward and down the ramp.
Having judged the alternatives, he opted for the safer track and headed 'The Panzer' off to the right, striking for the space between The Sculpture and The Bridge. He trusted, that his judgement was still as keen as it once was and he could, in truth, squeeze between these two antiquated obstructions. As he drew closer, Frank could see that he was going to clear both of the listed structures, by a good foot or more, on either side and a little of his anxiety faded away, into the background.
When he reached the old cobbled causeway leading up and over the darkly stained bridge, he stopped 'The Panzer' and gazed at the now, mostly disused archway of The Ravens Gate. A few yards further on, he slowed again and this time he reached out to stroke the brittle metalwork, of the iron sculpture with the reaching black birds atop it.
Then, he took one last lingering look at the old tar works, before he commenced his given task, of destroying it forever. Once he was clear of the bridge, it simply became a matter of picking the point of his incursion into the derelict complex itself. Ahead, some of the wire appeared to be damaged and that section of the perimeter fencing, would seem the easiest to penetrate.
“There we go, that will do nicely,” he informed 'The Panzer' and aimed it’s tracks towards the perceived weakness in the Works outer defences.
There was almost no resistance as he broke through the rusty barrier, continuing he demolished a small weigh station cabin, by simply crushing it under the weight of 'the beast.’ Frank, surprised at the ease of that initial action, then looked around for the next target.
“If they all fold like that one, this isn’t going to take much time, or effort,” he smirked as he released the heavy ball, from its harness and let it swing towards the brick wall in front of him. The wall put up little more in the way of resistance than the previous structure, it just shattered, bringing the adjacent shed down with it.
“Oops,” said Frank sarcastically, but he cut his celebrations rather short because in the instant, that the ball hit it’s target, an ultra high frequency hiss, seemed to start up in his ears. Initially, this sound didn’t cause Frank any problems and he soon dismissed it. As the dust cleared a little he was able to see, for the first time, more of the doomed Tar Works just laid out before him. He noticed all the alleyways led towards the centre, like the spokes on a giant wheel. There in the middle, was the impressive weather vane, towering overseeing its minions.
Apart from the sounds of the Panzers engine, occasionally collapsing sheets of metal and the crashing of the falling brickwork, the site appeared to be almost silent. Except for this ‘bloody hiss,’ that was still chewing away in his ears. Frank surmised, that the relentless, insistent note, must have been caused by a change in the local air pressure, or a burst water pipe due to some crashing metal sheets. Or, possibly it was a percussion related occurrence and either way, he supposed that it would pass with time.
“This is a piece of piss,” he informed 'The Panzer,' as it smashed into another corrugated iron building. “Piece of piss,” he triumphantly restated, as another pile of rubble fell around the tracks of ’the destroyer.’ If the remainder of these corroded building folded as rapidly, this job would be taken care of in double quick time and there would be a bonus, waiting for him in his wage packet at the end of the month.
Unbeknown to him, all this noise and disruption had not gone unnoticed. Deep within the rotting works, there was a solitary,
Then a single piercing cry rent the air, as one of the sentinels within, cried out, to alert its brethren. Simultaneously, something terrible was awoken from deep inside the old No.1 Shed, and it was in angry. Frank and The Panzer, continued on their path directly towards the central spire, demolishing everything that obstructed their progress. Corrugated iron, was no competition for the heartless machine Frank was piloting.
One after another, they collapsed, as he and 'The Panzer,' smashed their brittle frames. As he slammed through the rear wall, of yet another flimsy, rotting construction masquerading as a workshop, the relentless hissing sound in his head, grew louder until it began to whine.
Suddenly, he thought he caught something, in the corner of his eye, moving amongst the ruins.
“Fucking kids,” he spat, with a certain amount of venom. “ How the fuck did they get in here?” he hissed. “Oh well, you knew the risks, so fuck you,” he said in a voice that was intentionally loud enough, to be clearly heard over his idling machine. Frank was in no mood to be mucked around with and right now, in destroyer mode, he was best avoided.
“This whining sound, is getting fucking annoying. I know that,” he snarled and tried to clear his ears, by sticking a finger in each side and waggling them up and down furiously, but to no effect.
Frank had little time for misbehaving kids, so couldn’t resist having one more hurtful, sarcastic dig. “Mummy and Daddy have no idea what their little Johnny gets up to, when their backs are turned, do they” and then after a moments thought, he threw in, “They will, when you have to explain the bruises away.” Then, loudly, he offered what for him, was an Olive branch. “I’m going to light my cigarette, then count to ten and it would be better for you, if you disappeared. Get it?”
Then, just to make the point sound more derisory and threatening, he tragically said it again but even louder, just to make sure any intruder heard and understood he was not to be trifled with. Truth was, he didn’t want to cause any harm to a school kid, or anyone else for that matter, by accidentally bringing a wall down on top of them, as much as he felt, they may have deserved it. However, it was after all, a weekday and children should be in school.
“It’s no wonder, that this fucking country’s going to the dogs,” he grumbled to himself and accelerated towards the next target.
It was then he first observed the bird as it glided across the last thirty feet of the gap, between 'The Panzer' and the old weather vane. Which, when Frank viewed it from close up, was a rather ancient looking, rusting, scarred and bent metal tubular structure.
Unlike the sculpture and the gates at the entrance to the works, which were topped with a slew of black ferrous bird like creatures, this had just the one, which due to the structures damaged nature, pointed skywards. The gliding bird did not fly past Frank’s position, instead it chose to inconveniently perch itself on top of the roll-bars, which curled over his head, encasing the driver within a protected zone, just in case he stupidly turned the vehicle over, while working in hazardous terrain.
Then, as he started to move forwards again, he noticed another of the black birds, was effortlessly gliding toward his location. It too, chose to perch on the top of 'The Panzer.' They both sat there quietly and looked at each other. Then in unison, as if by some prearranged signal, opened their large beaks and a sound, which could only be described as 'tortured metal screaming in agony,' emanated from their throats. Frank stopped and involuntarily covered his ears to protect himself, from their painful screeching. He defensively swung out a hand at the deafening avians, in an utterly futile attempt to silence their malicious screams, or scare them away.
This ear piercing sound, was as impossible to describe, as it was to still. Strangely, their Banshee-like wail, did not appear to come from them, but from somewhere far below, deep beneath the ground. As terrifying as it sounded, nothing prepared him for what happened next. Just as he reached a point, were he thought, that he might be driven mad by the incessant, unbroken shrieking of his two black feathered passengers still perched on the roll bars, above his head, another bird appeared out of nowhere and flew straight for him. This new one, appeared to have a different agenda, it approached ever closer, before curtailing it’s forward progress, directly hovering in front of his face, furiously flapping it’s wings. Though it never made any physical contact, his assailant obstructed his view and converted the world, into a flickering kaleidoscope of stroboscopic confusion.
Frank was beginning to panic. He’d never cared much for birds, he always found them a bit creepy and he certainly, didn’t like them being this close to his face. In an attempt, to rid himself of his tormenters he jerked 'The Panzer,' around, by putting his right foot hard on and off the gas, then hitting the brakes. Unfortunately, this 'Stop and Start,' routine was unsuccessful. Bereft of another ploy, he continued to wave his free arm, back and forth in a further fruitless attempt, to scare away the hovering black menace. The flapping, clawed fury obscuring his path, still harassed him from the front and in one last effort to clear his line of vision to his next target, he hit the brakes hard and roared at his dark nemesis.
“Arrrrgh, fuck off,” he cried, at the top of his lungs, wildly waving both his hands at his winged tormentor.
Then, his foot somehow slipped on the steel surface and became inextricably and painfully wedged, under the brake pedal but atop of the accelerator. Frank and the Panzer, along with the wrecking ball, jerked forward at full speed, heading straight for the twisted weather vane, in the heart of the old Battersby’s Tar Works. Try as he might, Frank could not release his trapped foot and the Panzer, continued on its uncontrolled destructive path towards the rapidly approaching tower.
Frank couldn’t see where he was going, he had one hand raised defending his head as now all three birds were flapping and screeching in his face. Then, as he frantically kicked and twisted to try to free his foot they began clawing and pecking at his head and hands. This runaway machine with its 15 ton steel ball, careered headlong towards the rusting weather vane. At this moment, he felt utterly helpless. He couldn’t free his right foot from the accelerator without the use of both his hands. One of which was desperately trying to control the direction of the Panzer. The other he waved frantically trying to fend off of the malicious birds trying to peck and claw his eyes out. Until this point, he had only registered two, or maybe three strikes but the last one, had somehow seemed ’heavier’ and now, he could feel the distinctly sticky sensation of warm blood running down his cheek.
The aerial assault relented as the birds suddenly lifted and resettled on the roll bars, allowing him to take in the gravity of his situation. Frank suddenly became aware of the fast approaching, now unavoidable collision with the base of the tower. Eyes wide, his unblinking gaze registered the impending threat of serious injury. Instinctively, he braced himself for impact. In his mind’s eye, time slowed and reality was suspended for the three seconds of time elapsing before the inevitable crunch. As the Panzer crashed into the rusting weather vane, it came to a jarring halt. The constant wailing sound in his ears, began to scream ever louder in his brain. As the volume reached an almost unbearable pitch, the birds took flight, leaving Frank to try and regather his jolted senses.
With his dark winged assailants now departed, he peered up at the now dangerously leaning tower and watched it agonisingly sway back and forth. Fearing that at any minute it may collapse, Frank figured it was a good idea to get as far away from it as possible, but appeared incapable of movement.
Seemingly mesmerised, Frank watched as the pillar wobbled alarmingly, for what seemed like an age, before the lurching declined and his heart beat began to slow down. Frank sat motionless in the drivers seat, he was breathing heavily, slowly he wiped the blood and sweat from his face with the back of his hand. As his breathing normalised he tried to relax his back, which he now realised had taken quite a jolt, in the collision. Gradually, he found he was now able to release his foot from it’s pinned position on the accelerator.
“Jesus, it’s a fucking good job I had the time to secure that bastard ball, before this happened!” No sooner had the words left his mouth, than there was a gut wrenching “Twang,” which came from above. That sound, instantly informed him, that something important had just failed. He looked up and was just in time, to see the heavy ball, break away from it’s moorings and smash into the already weakened structure, of the weather vane. This second blow, was too much for the black colossus to withstand and his years of experience told him, that this baby, was coming down.
Frank instinctively leapt from the cockpit and looked towards the top of the doomed tower, reaching forlornly into the now leaden sky, while inexorably falling to earth in painfully slow motion. He quickly judged the likely direction it would fall and to avoid being consumed by the debris, chose which direction to run. The column barely moved at first and for a moment, it seemed that it may yet maintain its integrity. Then, there was a sickening, almost painful grating sound, which came from somewhere within the main body of the structure. The sensation of metal, rasping against metal and a deep growling sound, like that of some dark subterranean beast, rudely aroused from its long slumber, broke forth.
The screaming sound in his ears, which resonated painfully, was rising to a crescendo. Then, just as it seemed that the colossus must surely collapse, the scream in his head ceased abruptly and a deathly silence fell over the whole works as all movement ceased.
It was as if the executioners hand had been stayed, thus allowing the aged tower, one final instant of life, in which it could inhale its final breath. Then, just as suddenly, the centre buckled, as if it had been shot and the base snapped with a sickening,
The peak, resplendent with it’s multiplicity of directional arms, then inexplicably caved in on itself. The ornate Victorian Weather Vane, was suddenly no more than a pile of scrap metal, lying in a twisted heap, on the broken cobble stones.
Frank however, wasn’t looking at the remains of the tower. He was peering, open mouthed, at all the dark objects flowing like a river, out of the big black warehouse dominating the rear of the complex. In horror, he realised they must be hundreds more of those ghastly birds that attacked him earlier. They rose up like some infernal swarm, curled away skyward, before turning back and diving directly at him. Frank, eyes wide, looked hard into the black swarm. No, there was no mistake, they were headed straight towards him. Then, as his gaze penetrated their host, he realised there was something else in there with them.
Something larger and even more malevolent, spinning and writhing in and out of view. Frank’s heart began to pound even harder and a cold chill ran down his back and froze him to the spot. As they drew closer, another ear shattering cry could be heard, emanating from somewhere within the approaching swarm. Then, as he stared, terror struck by the approaching hoard, all he seemed able to discern were their snarling boney faces and malicious red eyes, sneering at him.
As the hideous birds drew ever nearer, a subconscious dread rose steadily in his chest, with every second he remained rooted to the spot. Slowly, his survival instinct began to take over. Running was clearly out of the question, so Frank’s eyes desperately sought a place of shelter from the ominous hoard, rapidly approaching his position.
As he turned to seek refuge, he again caught a glimpse of something else, even more murderous, lurking inside the maelstrom. He looked around desperately for any structure within reach, that could provide sanctuary. There was nothing, only the smashed sheds and demolished workshops that he and the Panzer, had left in their wake, as they scythed a path through the Old Tar Works. There was only the Panzer within reach, that would offer any form of minimal protection, from the rapidly approaching malignant horde.
'Go Frank, you can make it, run man, run now!' His inner voice screamed to his legs which appeared to be held in molten tar. It was just a mere fifty yards he had to cover, in order to reach the shelter of the crashed mobile crane. Without another thought, he lurched forward at full pace, almost stumbling over his own feet and nearly falling, he made his dash for safety back across the cobbled roadway. As he was sprinting, trying to stay ahead of the closing flock, Frank caught sight of the entity he had glimpsed earlier, traveling within the midst of the approaching tumult. Now it was much closer, he could almost feel it’s black shadow envelop him, desperately he urged his legs to run faster.
“Fuck me!” He exclaimed, grinding to a halt as he saw the creature, or whatever it was, suddenly standing there before him, blocking his route to the Panzer. Frank was stunned. 'Shit, how did that thing, get there so fast?' He gasped, as he came to a deadstop and the pursuing black horde, landed on the ground, surrounding him.
‘The thing,’ stood there blocking his way, hypnotically swaying in and out of phase, before his eyes. His mind was desperately searching for some kind of reference point but all it came up with, was a rather poor comparison with his few youthful dalliances with hallucinogenic drugs. Desperately he tried to focus on his tormentor but it kept slipping in and out of his vision.
Still swaying, it began to move towards him, Frank took a step backwards and almost tripped over one of ‘the black horde,’ that were moving all around him. The bird responded by taking a small piece of flesh, out of his ankle.
“Fucking hell, you bastard,” he spluttered, as the pain shot straight up his leg and lodged firmly in his brain. He instinctively kicked out blindly, trying to rid himself of this attacker but he lost his footing and crashed to the ground, banging his head and ribs. The multitude of predatory looking birds swarmed around as he lay there, slightly winded by his unexpected fall. Frank squinted and looked upwards towards the darkening sky, then took a deep painful breath of air, into his bruised lungs.
“Shit!” Frank said, as he stumbled unsteadily to his feet andlooked once more, in the direction of the hideous swaying 'dancer,’ that was still advancing, on his location.
As the creature continued it’s approach, Frank could plainly see it slipping in and out of phase, as it drew ever closer. The birds moved aside, parting like a black ocean at its passage. Then, as he stared transfixed, from deep within the dark folds, of what appeared to be a tattered monks habit, two long white bonelike extrusions appeared, which seemed to hang down and almost touch the ground. While the creature itself, remained in a phasic state, the two claw like objects, were in perfect focus and Frank, just knew they were weapons. 'The thing,' drew ever closer and the Ravens,
“Yes!” He exclaimed, 'that’s what they are,' he shouted triumphantly, out loud, “They’re fucking Ravens!” arranged themselves about his feet, preventing any hope of flight.
Desperately looking around he realised if he tried to run, he would undoubtedly trip and fall again, then they would be upon him. Alternately, If he stood his ground, he would have to face their Master. Heart pounding, sweat trickling down his face, he chose the latter and, taking a deep breath, turned to meet his destiny head on.
Frank, barely had time to straighten himself, before the first blow fell. He felt the sensation of burning pain, running down his left side, as the monstrous claws sliced through his flesh and exposed his ribs to the air. The creature moved back a step, as if to observe it’s handywork and just continued phasing and swaying. Frank, urgently looked down for an implement to use in his defence. He caught sight of a piece of twisted metal, from the collapse of the tower. It had nasty jagged edges, that he vainly hoped would be strong enough to inflict, a fairly serious injury, on his assailant. Swiftly he grabbed for it,
“Strike first and strike fast,” he yelled as he leapt forward and with all his force swung his piece of jagged iron, at the dark dancer bringing the piece of rusting metal down on it’s head. The strike, was very accurate, hitting his assailant around where, he guessed the skull should be. The blow, delivered with such venom, should have disabled, if not killed his attacker.
Instead, the edge passed right through the form, as if it were not there. The momentum of the swing and the lack of resistance to the blow, unbalanced Frank exposing his right side to one of the swaying Entity’s long white boney claws. It did not miss the opportunity. The obscenity just held out it’s talons in the correct location, simply allowing Frank, to slide by and carve himself up. The burning agony was exquisite and he gasped, as he desperately tried to keep his balance. Seconds later, another slicing blow struck him from above, but this time, it made contact on his opposite side, then carved its way past his face, though never touching it.
The torture was so intense, that his legs buckled for a moment but somehow, he managed to steady himself, just in time to feel something slam into his back. His mouth opened and contorted into a silent scream, as he experienced another sickening sensation, the white blade slid across his stomach, like a Parers blade and began to butcher him. It continued to sink it’s blade into his stomach, almost cutting the organ completely, in half.
From that moment onwards, Frank Parry was doomed, he was as good as dead already. Clutching futilely at his belly, he witnessed the full horror of watching, as his intestines, spilled out and fell steaming, onto the cold stones below his feet. Then, his killer thrust the full array of boney white spikes into and through his chest, raising him up above the cobble stones and shook him about, like a dog with it’s prey.
In the few brief moments, before he passed from this world, his head was violently pulled back to expose his throat, which was then slowly cut from ear to ear and his dying eyes, were deftly plucked out. Mercifully, Frank, was only aware of the initial cut, he was gone from this world before the Raven’s stripped the skin and flesh from his bones, leaving him on the ground, in a soup of bloody gore and bird shit.
P.C’s Stan James and Josh Frazer, arrived along the canal bank at 8.59am and parked on the bank as close to the Raven’s Gate Bridge as the road allowed. They were counting themselves as fortunate, to be allocated this duty.
“That must be the barge, down there” Stan intimated with a tilt of his head, “now all we have to do, is stand guard over something, that Joe Public, doesn’t give a toss about.”
Josh, grunted his agreement then added, “Magic and the weather’s none too shoddy either,” as they approached the stern of 'Sheila,' with it’s rather dodgy markings.
“Well, this must be the one,” muttered Stan, peering through the windows. “I can’t see anybody at home though, let’s take a look inside the works,” he added and set off towards the hole in the fence line. “It looks like somebody went through here, if the tracks are anything to go by,” he said and then stopped to listen, hoping to hear the sound of an engine, but there was only silence. Casting his gaze back up the towpath, beyond 'Sheila,' he noticed, that there was another possible entrance. “Tell you what, Josh, if you go in, up that way,” he said, pointing to the thin strip of gravel, that led away beyond the entrance to the old basin, “I’ll take the other path and we’ll meet up inside and see, what there is to see.”
Josh Frazer, nodded his head in agreement “OK, just keep your com open. Just in case,” he muttered and then set off towards the entranceway, which went curling away, around the far edge of the bank.
As he turned the bend in the towpath, he looked back along the quiet bank and saw Stan, disappearing from view as he entered The Ravens Gate Works.
“What a mess,” Stan commented to no one, while looking at the trail of destruction, wrought by 'The Panzer,' as Frank Parry had driven it, at full speed, into the works. The scars of Frank’s wanton demolition were not hard to follow, as they carved a clear way through the decrepit corrugated iron sheds. Stanley simply followed, where the trail led him. Fastidiously, he looked into every cranny along the route, sticking his head into any buildings that were still standing, giving the workshop’s interiors, a cursory once over.
Meanwhile, Josh Frazer was looking at the place in absolute wonder. “Look at that,” he absentmindedly said to himself, as he rounded a broken down workshop sited, at the end of the row, curving along the rim of the bank. Once he cleared that final obstruction, he was afforded an unrestricted view, of the old Victorian Basin which stretched out impressively in front of him. 'Jesus, look at that,' he mused. 'Can you imagine, what it looked like back in the day?'
While his colleague was admiring the faded grandeur of the old basin, Stan, was continuing along his trail of destruction. Finding nothing of note to report, he was beginning to wonder where the workman, who they’d been assured would be on site, had got to. Then there came a piercing cry, followed by a crackling on his radio,
“Fucking hell Stan, come and look at this, over” It was easy to hear, in the still silence and Stan, responded instantly.
“Shout out every 10 seconds and I’ll find you, over” he replied, as he made his way, in the general direction of the shriek, coming from somewhere off to his left, deep within the works. “Keep calling, I’ve almost got you,” shouted Stan, as he turned a corner, only to see his colleague, standing there before him, peering confusedly at something in the rusted remains, and scratching his head.
“What is it?” Stan enquired.
“I think, we’ve got a Mummy on our hands. Put out an A.P.B, for an Egyptian Priest,” Josh said, trying to add a touch of levity, to this unexpected situation. Stan looked nonplussed, so Josh elaborated. “It’s a bone dry, mutilated man’s body. It must have been here for donkey’s years. Makes you wonder, how come nobody discovered it, when they were searching for Tex Draper and Keith Nesbitt?”
Stan, new on the scene, reached into his pocket and withdrew his small police torch and shone it over the body. “Look at it’s face and it’s clothes, they seem to be almost contemporary. Surely, to be that crispy, this guy must have lain here, dead and undisturbed for years. Possibly ever since the place shut down.”
However, as curious as this dried screaming mummy was, they were actually seeking a workman and his crane. Stan, being the senior, took charge, “Well, I don’t think that this guy’s going anywhere, so lets go and find the man, who cut this swathe through the works. Then, we can call this in and let the SCS deal with it. I don’t reckon there’s many people who’ll still be around to miss him.” With that, they again picked up on the line of wreckage, that Frank and 'The Panzer,' had clearly marked out and set off for the centre of the works.
With the massive black building, which dominated the rear of the complex, as their guide, they soon ran across the now silent Panzer, with its wrecking ball, hanging immobile, in the still air. Suddenly, P.C’s Frazer and James stopped dead in their tracks.
“What the fuck is that,” Josh exclaimed and lifted his finger, to point at something, that looked like a pile of bloody bones and offal, like something you might find in the waste bin of the local butchers shop.
As they approached, the full horror of their discovery, became all too clear. There, in front of them, was the remains of a man, kneeling as if in prayer, with its eyeless head completely untouched, by whatever had laid waste to the rest of him. There was nothing but a huge pool of bloody bone, offal and some ribbons of uneaten flesh on the body.
“The head and neck are unmarked, except for the eyes and one small wound on the crown of its skull” observed Stan. Josh Frazer, now looked at that screaming mouth.
“It looks as if The Devil, himself had been present for this guys execution,” whispered Josh, under his breath. Then quickly turned, heaved a couple of times, then threw up.
Stan grabbed unsteadily for his radio, “I think, that we might need to call this one in to the Boss, right now.”