Powderfinger by Keller Yeats

All Rights Reserved ©

Chapter 7

This was the first time that Nick could remember having a chance to do his shopping on a weekday morning. He wasn’t used to having so much time on his hands. He had told himself, that a trip to the Megastore, was required because he needed to purchase a bottle, or two of Cognac and some Rolling Tobacco. He had intended to just nip in, get the stuff that he wanted and leave but he couldn’t help himself, when it came to the Free Papers, that were always on display there. They contained some of the most amusing ’typo’s,’ that you could ever wish to find and Nick just couldn’t resist them. Had he not chosen a career in the Social Services, he liked to think that a position in the National Press, may have suited him. However, at the time he left University, armed with his Humanities Degree, it seemed to Nick, that the best option on offer, was to enter the helping professions and leave journalism to others. Despite the life choice that he had made, his fascination with the “Wolves of Fleet Street,” continued. There were days, when he would buy The Guardian, or The Groniad as he referred to it, simply to provide a little quality and eloquence in his life. A welcome respite from the monotone, single syllable discourse, that was often on offer at the Hostel.

Nick looked at the array of papers before him. This time, the Press had got it right and by Tuesday’s first editions, every newspaper was running headlines similar to the one that appeared on Saturday evening, in the BartonExaminer, a small local free rag with a readership of 300 on a good day, which read; “Young Woman Mutilated by Hostel.” The fact that The Examiner used ‘by’ instead of ’near’ had led to some misunderstanding amongst the locals which had directly impacted on Miss Blackshaw’s attitude to the incident. She had rush released a press statement to calm local nerves. This, coupled with the nature of the crime, soon had all the local free papers just piling in with ever more salacious headlines, trying desperately to grab the public interest.

They ranged from the most reasonable, IrlamInvestigator, which led with; “Woman Dieson Canal Bank,” to the ever sensationalist Patricroft Meteor, who had a different slant on the story and went with; “Young Girl 26, Butchered.” In their editorial, they continued the theme, stating that, “It seemed that females were no longer at liberty to walk alone, without most likely being attacked by a drug crazed Feral Chav, high on Crack Cocaine.” The Patricroft Meteor, was the oldest and most right wing of them all, having been established in 1932, as The Wall Street Crash, was happening. 'The Meteor,' railed against profligate government spending and quickly gained a loyal following, which sadly peaked, as The Second World War ended. Then it changed its Editor in Chief, from the popular Douglas Pettigrew, an old Fellow of Manchester Grammar School, Sir Quentin Whitstable Saggers, who was educated at Eaton School and the tone of the paper shifted distinctly, to the right hand edge of Conservative rhetoric. The novelty quickly wore off and after a slight rise in it’s circulation, The Meteor’s sales tailed off again, due to the extreme positions it took up and the tone of language it often used when discussing a perceived social problem. It seriously lost readership after an editorial stated; “There was nothing un-British, about a little racism every now and again.” After that, Saggers had been forced to retire but not before it unceremoniously joined the ranks of the free local papers, or “Rags” as most people referred to them.

Nick, was as always, highly amused by the rabid nature of The Meteors polemic but the day was won, by the good old Willowbank Legend. Which was increasingly chaotically run, by Desmond Desmond and his dyslexic features editor, Miss Lyndsey O’Sullivan. Her piece on the incident by the canal, found it’s way straight into Nick’s scrapbook of humour. The Legend, had rushed out a special edition but due to Miss O’Sullivan’s ’difficulty,’ it had led with the banner headline; “Toadpath Deaf Terror.” It was utter nonsense of course but in reality, that was the charm of the local papers and sometimes, as they say, “You just couldn’t make it up.” However, there was now going to be some continued interest shown by many of the local hacks, who all knew where St. Joseph’s Probation Hostel was located. Nick groaned inwardly, he did not need this. Then he chided himself and forced the optimistic attitude that “it will all be cleared up before I return to work”. Smiling to himself and shaking his head, he picked up this weeks copy of The Willowbank Legend and tucking it under his arm, pulled himself away from the other “comics” and carried on with his mornings shopping. He would cut out the headline, from 'The Legend,' later and stick it in his 'Humour files' but right now, he needed something to smoke.

Unbeknown to Nickolas, at the very same time as he was cashing out of the Megastore with his purchases, Eleanor Ross, was just closing her garden gate and setting off, on her expedition to Barton, with the intention of enjoying another fine day. This last Summer, had been like a dream. Day after day of clear blue skies and a stillness to the air, that reminded her of The Balearic Islands in July, or August. Eleanor, had prepared her camera and packed a couple of extra lenses and a tripod in her kit bag, ready for the planned excursion down the canal bank to her Sister’s cottage in Barton. Being a professional photographer had provided Eleanor, with a good livelihood. The fact that her evocative images, were far more famous than her name ever was, gave her a good feeling inside. She had never intended to be recognised for herself, only for her work. To that endeavor, she had made her wonderfully composed, ghostly images of declining industrial might, world famous.

This walk along the canal towpath, would provide her with ample opportunities to record the passing of an age, as the old Battersby’s Tar Works, was due to be redeveloped into a brand new, 40 berth Marina with attendant housing. This may be one of the last opportunities to capture the old industrial landscape, before the Tar Works was gone forever. To turn down the chance offered by this warm, clear autumn day, would indeed have been reckless of her. Eagerly, under the glow of the ever warming sun, Eleanor loaded her equipment into the boot of her aging Mercedes Benz and after checking that it was all secure, got in her car and started the engine. Before pulling away from the kerb, she opened the drivers window and then set off towards the towpath to Barton with the gentle wind blowing through her hair.

The traffic was surprisingly light and Eleanor made excellent time on her 10 mile trip to Gildabrooke and her appointment with Mr. Battersby’s Tar Works with it’s replica Bridge of Sighs. This wistful, derelict industrial landscape filled her mind’s eye with bleakly beautiful images. The mechanical wasteland never failed to leave her mind awash with peacefully melancholic photographic opportunities, some of which she took and many others, that she allowed to silently drift by. Eleanor made most of her income, and had done for years, by selling these reflective, yet poignant images of Industrial Decline and Fall, to the ever rapacious media, historical tomes and art galleries. However, despite the apparent uninspiring nature that this project had initially appeared to offer, it turned out to be one that she was thoroughly enjoying, plus, today she going to make a point of calling in on her sister, Rachel. This was an appointment she kept on promising herself that she would keep, but somehow never managed to get around to it. Today, was going to be different. Today, she was determined that she was not going to be distracted by any long silent, dust filled machine shops, or fall victim to any folk tales, regarding the imaginary ghostly maidens, taking a last stroll over evocatively named Quaker Crossing. No, today she would visit her sister.

Upon reaching Gildabrooke, Eleanor soon found a parking place near the canal and within 20 minutes from leaving home, was retrieving her equipment from the rear of the Orange Merc, and making her way down the steps to the water’s edge. Once there, she looked down and along the still waterway towards Barton village and Rachel’s home. There was not a breath of wind by the canal side and the water could easily have been mistaken for a mirror, ‘great reflective opportunities’ she thought. The warmth of the day was already becoming apparent and Eleanor was beginning to feel a distinct rush of excitement about the coming shoot.

The Tar Works, was one of the oldest industrial buildings on the canal but it had been sadly neglected over the years, ever since the whole canal system of mass transport was superseded by the Age of The Combustion Engine. The decline had been slow at first, but as the road system increased its intrusion into every aspect of everyday life, the isolation of Battersby’s Tar Works from the main routes caused the need for relocation to Partington, so as to be close to both the quarry and motorways. The ’Ravens Gate Works’ as it was known locally, finally ceased operations in December 1960.

As she reached the bottom of the pedestrian ramp, Eleanor noticed how the air, somehow became thicker and distinctly warmer. The ambient sound, faded further into the background and as she looked down the old waterway, she could almost imagine how it had appeared in the past. Some late season Midges were dancing just above the water and a slight haze was beginning to make its mid morning appearance, as the temperature rose and dried out the early morning dew. This was a perfect set up for today’s shoot and Eleanor smiled to herself, as she set off towards the first of the four listed bridges that would lead her through ‘Ravens Gate’ and on to Barton.

Capturing this “feeling of reflective peace,” with her camera, was her trademark and it had proved to be very popular, for many years. Her alternate view, she referred to as, “Rolling back the years,” a somewhat romantic portrayal, that appealed more to the older citizen and reminded them, of a gentler time that had never really existed. This series, was also a money spinner, but it tended to travel more comfortably along the lines of chocolate boxes, jigsaw puzzles, greetings cards. Occasionally, this theme stretched to the covers of rather poor paperback novels, that more often than not, were purposely left in hotel rooms, accompanied with the epithet, “I’m sure that somebody else will enjoy this.”

Eleanor, was eager to begin the days shoot and protectively cupped the camera in her right hand, to offer it extra protection above that which was provided by the strap, which she had securely slung over her shoulder. As Eleanor walked enthusiastically along the gentle curve of the bank, she could now clearly see that this days efforts, so far, would be well worth it. Her pace slowed as she approached The Balaclava Bridge, embellished as it was, with all it’s cannonballs and rearing Granite Cavalry Horses carved in relief. She took several studies of this one, with it’s snarling warhorses pounding across the dark Granite bridgework, their nostrils flared. This bridge, was a work of art and must have a tale, or two, to tell she thought, one which she and her trusty camera would attempt to expose. Everywhere she cast her eye, yet another photographic composition appeared. All she had to do, was simply stop for a few seconds and take them. It was as if the place had been waiting for her and was refusing to die, until she and her camera, had recorded its existence for posterity.

She was growing increasingly excited by the prospect of a really productive and therefore highly profitable day behind the lens as she approached the amazingly modern looking, Quaker Crossing which was the next bridge in line. Its limestone glistened gently in the sunshine and she quickly rolled off several shots of its elegant span. When it had been suggested by her Agent, some time ago, that it may be to her benefit, to take a look at this particular section of the old canal, he had shown her the historical information he had gleaned off the Internet, with only a rudimentary Google search, she had been initially intrigued. The story of the four historic bridges and the thought of “crossing over into a bygone age,” that was mentioned, in the small article was of some interest. Unfortunately, her life got in the way of any further pursuit and the project had been put on the back burner, in favour of more instantly lucrative opportunities.

Eleanor, actually felt a certain pang of guilt because to be ignorant of this small section of her own Local Industrial history, was unforgivable. If only she had been more diligent and hadn’t been so quick to seek an excuse, as to why she should postpone another chance to see her sister, she may have noticed much earlier the intricacy of the bridges that spanned the canal a mere 3 miles from her siblings house. Christ, she drove past them every time she visited and even though that was infrequently, she felt that she must have been driving with blinkers on to have missed this small marvel.

Rachel, was aware of the area but didn’t care one bit about it. In Rachel’s eyes, shiny and new were the watchwords and all else was dispensed with as rapidly as possible. As a child, Eleanor found her sisters attitude, which was aptly summed up in her favourite phrase; “History’s no mystery, blast the past”, trite. At the first opportunity that presented itself, she left home and carried herself off to University, never to return to the family pile, until recently, when her parents started to require a little help with their lives. Rachel, who left school at 16 with no qualifications but some totally unrealistic dreams of becoming a model, had ended up working in a shoe shop, with two failed marriages, three children and a drink problem.

So, yet again, it had been up to her to cover the latest ongoing situation with their parents circumstances. Dementia and Parkinson’s, do not fade away with the seasons and Eleanor, as the oldest and more responsible of the two of them, shouldered the burden. Sometimes, Eleanor wondered, if she would ever escape her sister’s inept shadow but that was happening less often these days and opportunities like this, to get out and create something of value, were becoming ever more precious. Eleanor’s mind was awash with the difficulties, that many middle aged people struggle with. Her parents. Their health. The aging process and her bloody sisters selfish existence.

“Enough, enough,” she hissed and put her hands on her head and sighed. “Enough of this crap, this is supposed to be a relaxing day, not a wind up. Let it go Ellie, let it go, it’s just life that’s all.” She then, let out a heartfelt scream and childishly counted to ten.

Having expunged her frustrations, she sat herself down on an old, decaying wooden bench that somebody had conveniently located in this scenic spot many years ago. She viewed the vista before her and her spirits began to rise, as the photographer inside her reasserted it’s control. The stillness of the water, the perfect composition of this view and the silence of the location, were intoxicating. She was sorely tempted to capture the scene on her camera but just as she was going to depress the shutter, she stopped and berated herself,

“Jesus Ellie, you’re supposed to be a professional” she exclaimed. “Don’t be so stupid,there must be a million Joe Soap copies of this picture out there” and she lowered her camera again. In fact, the last occasion when anybody actually took this photograph, was some thirty seven years previously, when a German exchange student at the local college snapped it and sent it home to his mother in Dusseldorf. After that, everybody who had sat in the exact position, where she was sitting right now, had come to the same conclusion as Eleanor and shelved the idea. There were in fact, very few pictures of this portion of the canal and it would have been one of her finest ever photographs. Everything, was, at this precise moment in perfect harmony. Those midges were just in the correct location for that fish to jump, and thus, create a pattern of ripples that fanned out in almost perfect circles across the mill pool calm, glass like surface, of the cutting. Sadly, it was to remain untaken.

Eleanor, put her unused Nikon, back in the kit bag and set off towards the old Tar Works. Beyond Quaker Crossing, the monumental span that was known to locals as Ravens Gate, was looming on the horizon. Still to this day an impressive structure, with its Baroque design that had been inspired by The Bridge of Sighs in Venice. Stained and bleak, with its Cast Iron Ravens on the entrance gateway still intact, it was indeed a massively pretentious example of Victorian excess. Now that she could view the whole scene more clearly, she observed the demolition company barge with its cargo of mobile crane and wrecking ball, tied up opposite the ornate gates with their imperious birds. She realised that if she had waited much longer, the matt black beast, that was securely attached by sturdy chains, to a couple of capstans on the bank, may have released its cargo to do it’s work. Leaving the vicinity with only broken masonry and shattered bricks to mark the passing of The Old Tar Works. Soon, all trace of its existence would be eradicated by the new Marina Complex.

The barge that carried the crane, with its scaffold of metal limbs and tendons of wire cables, was sedately tied up on the opposite bank adjacent to it’s intended victim, just waiting to go and undertake its intended task. Even, on such a glorious morning, 'the executioner,' as Eleanor thought of it, looked ominous and unstoppable. She took a couple of preliminary snaps of the monster silhouetted against the blue sky and checked them in her Nikon’s quick view folder. Satisfied with the results, she took several studies of the 'Raven’s Gate Bridge' before walking slowly on, trying to steep herself in the whole melancholy experience, of the moment. Like the preacher, visiting a condemned man in the cell, just before his execution, knowing full well that the end was nigh and there was no possibility of an appeal, she took several evocative images, which she hoped would stand as a testament to this place and be a witness to the glories of a bygone age. Having more than exhausted every photo opportunity that the derelict tar works had to offer, Eleanor, checked her watch and decided that it was time to make tracks for Barton and her first meeting with her sister, for more than four years.

However, try as she might, Eleanor could not concentrate on any future meeting with Rachel and she turned around to capture the view back down the lonely waterway stopping for a moment to absorb the essence of the place. 'This could be anytime during the last two hundred years,' she mused and took one last shot down the cutting. This had been a most rewarding day, but it was now time to go and confront her Sister about the care, or lack of it, concerning their Mother and Father.

Her Nikon, was shouldered for the time being and she was just enjoying the walk towards the final bridge, Jenkins’ Walkway, absentmindedly viewing the surrounding flora and fauna, when the putrid odour of rotting flesh wafted momentarily across her nostrils and snapped her out of her trancelike state. 'Must be a dead animal, or something equally distasteful. It’s little wonder that people don’t come down here anymore, if the Council just leave things smelling like that to rot,' she thought and satisfied with that explanation, she pressed on towards Barton. About two hundred yards further and on the opposite bank, Eleanor noticed what appeared to be a series of old greenhouses, that, even though they were falling down, remarkably still had many intact panes of glass.

As she walked past the now decrepit hothouses on the opposite bank, she thought, that she caught something out of the corner of her eye, on the opposite shore. She stopped abruptly and cast her gaze, in both directions along the canal, hoping to catch sight of the thing that had broken her reverie. There was nothing to be seen. It was probably just another one of those dammed floaters, that sometimes appeared in her eye, combined with the sun on the still water she reasoned. Content with that, she moved on towards Jenkins’ Walkway. After only a few more steps, her attention was drawn, once more, to something that she thought she saw moving, on the opposite bank of the waterway. Look as hard as she may, all Eleanor could see was nothing more than her own faint reflection in the cracked, grimy glass of the old abandoned greenhouse opposite.

“Actually,” she considered, “that’s not a bad shot.” She unfastened her backpack, placed it on the towpath in front of her and got her longer lens out and fitted it, all the while keeping an eye on the reflected image in the glass. She thought, that the image in the glass looked like a ghost, watching her going about her business. This style of photograph, was a little outside her usual range but Eleanor was sure that it could be used at some point in the future, as an exhibition piece, or maybe even as the front cover for this volume of her melancholy industrial scenes.

“Not bad, Ellie.” she said to herself, “More brass in your pocket, girl,” she thought avariciously, as she knelt down to take the exposure. As she depressed the shutter, she felt sure that something had just passed across the lens. Startled, she quickly took her eye away from the viewfinder and looked over to the greenhouses on the opposite bank. Nothing moved and Eleanor chastised herself for being such a wimp, 'bloody hell Ellie, you’ll be scared by your own shadow next.' Now dubious about the last photograph, she knelt and took the same image again for good measure. 'It’s probably going to be just more of the same but you can never be too sure.'

She comforted herself with that comment and opened the 'quick view' file, just to have a look at her efforts to date. When she reached the second to last photo, a shiver ran down her spine. There was something there, it hadn’t all been in her mind’s eye after all but what was it? The image that Eleanor was staring at, was of her own reflection in a grubby pane from left to right across the exposure, leaving the resulting image, looking as if it were half in deep shadow. She quickly brought up the very last exposure, that she had just taken and compared the two.

There was no trace of any darkening on the second shot. 'Must have been a bird, or something crossing the sun,' was how she dispatched any concerns regarding the previous shot.

“Places to be and a Sister to meet,” said Eleanor, as she set off to complete her journey to Barton. The small footbridge at Jenkins Hollow, was just ahead and her stomach gave one of those hungary gurgles, that indicated that she was in need of some sustenance. It was not that far to go now. Soon her stomach would be filled and no doubt, after some frank discourse, she would be able to bid Rachel, an almost sincere “adieu” and then, get back to 'Ravens Gate' and complete the day’s shoot with some twilight photos. The ancient arch of the footbridge at Jenkins’ Hollow, was reflected in the still water and it seemed to Eleanor, that it somehow took on the appearance of a benign watching eye, looking back up the canal. Unable to help herself, she reached again for her camera, raised it and then simply stopped and held her breath. This view back down the water towards the bridges, was truly remarkable and something told her that;

“This one must be snapped, or you’ll regret it for ever.”

She recalled how some years previously, she had been driving to Pendle, in Lancashire, at the invitation of the Local History Society and The Town Council, to do a project on The Witches. She had drawn up to a set of traffic lights, stopped to ask directions to the museum, when two people dressed as Mummers, in full regalia, had strode up, parked themselves on the bus stop bench and lit two cigarettes. Just then, the lights changed and she was forced to pull away from the scene. There was very little that she could have done anyhow, as all her equipment was securely locked away in the boot of the car. That scene, had haunted her for ages and now her camera, was always there, on the passenger seat “just in case.”

Eleanor now stood, with her Nikon ready to capture this scene, looking back down the channel towards Gildabrooke and the listed bridges.

“Oh yes,” she uttered, as the Nikon’s shutter clicked. Eleanor began to search around for the next image to capture and she then decided to follow that gem, with an atmospheric shot of Jenkins’ Hollow. The depression in the ground, known to all the local kids, as “The Hollow,” was these days home to various pieces of discarded flotsam, which included several bicycle frames, too many Supermarket trolleys to count and other pieces of detritus, too numerous to mention.

On a closer inspection 'The Hollow,' was in almost perfect juxtaposition, to the faint and misty soft focus of the previous shot. Originally, the water filled depression, with the shopping trolley handle sticking out of it, had been the entrance to Jenkins Pit, a locally owned bitumen and coal excavation that had collapsed, when a gallery was undercut and the ground subsided, crushing seventeen workers. After that, few people visited the spot and it had slowly fallen into disrepair. In 1954, the council had bulldozed the site, in order to make it safe for the general public to use but over the years, the land sank again and the depression slowly filled with water.

As she stood in front of the ancient span leading to Jenkins’ Hollow, Eleanor, was once again, taken with the aesthetic of its reflected image on the water’s surface and decided to take a few shots, she raised the Nikon to her eye and ran off five or six preliminary exposures in rapid succession. She sat down on the nearest lump of brickwork, to view the results of her efforts.

“Fucking hell,” she expounded, as she viewed them. All the shots, had something that was unwanted on them. They all had a dark shape, that upon inspection only showed up in the reflections on the water. The body of the bridge, did not appear to be affected. How was that possible? Eleanor, looked again at the quick views, then turned her camera on the bridge, again trying to see what it was.

Nothing jumped out at her. 'Now, what caused that?' she enquired and laying the camera down, looked again at the archway of the bridge, with her own eyes, nothing.

She looked down at the water, there it was, the reflection of something on the bridge, that looked like a pile of rags and it was staring at her. With a rapid glance to the walkway itself, there seemed to be nothing there, the rags and staring eyes had disappeared. As she quickly looked back at the water again, there they were, still apparent in the reflected image. 'How’s that possible,' she thought. This situation, was crying out for more photographic evidence, if only to prove to herself, what she thought she was seeing. Eleanor picked up her camera, put her eye to the viewfinder and began snapping away at the bridge again, with it’s reflected image. She set the camera to take one exposure every two seconds.

To her horror, as the Nikon kept on clicking away, the “Pile of Rags”, reflected in the water, began to move across the span. The goosebumps, that were involuntarily rising, made her whole body twitch, then stiffen, her senses were on full alert.

“This is too much, come on Ellie, perhaps it’s time to go,” she whispered almost inaudibly. Hurriedly, she started to put her equipment back into the kit bag. The long lens case was proving to be a little awkward and she struggled to get it into the bag, all the time glancing quickly back at the water to check where the weird “Rag” entity was. She frantically continued to stuff her equipment, back into it’s individual cases and hurriedly packed it away in her kit bag. This weirdness was freaking her out. All thoughts about taking any more pictures of these lonely banks, were discarded. Eleanor, felt the need to get away from this area. Now!

With all her kit stowed swiftly away, Eleanor stood up and took one last look at the water’s surface, with it’s spooky reflections, nothing. Rapidly, her eyes moved upwards, to scan the crossing itself, to her relief, there appeared to be nothing on the bridge and the reflection in the canal below, had disappeared. She quickly scanned the area behind her but could see nothing, other than a couple of old rusting pieces of metal, she supposed were something to do with bits of mining machinery, long since neglected and now left to rot away. There were the customary, bits of rag and a couple of plastic bags but nothing particularly untoward. It crossed her mind, that maybe she was imagining it all, perhaps the vision in the water, was simply an optical illusion, or just maybe, she was finally going mad. Anyway, there was nothing to be seen right now and she had still to walk on to Barton and call in on her sister.

Then, as she turned and took her first step towards Barton, the hairs on the back of her neck tingled and she got the distinct feeling she was not alone. It was as if a cold wet hand had suddenly reached up from the water and touched her on the back of her neck, chilling her spine. Eleanor was rooted to the spot, she stood perfectly still and just listened.

Holding her breath she could hear nothing, other than the ebb and flow of the distant passing traffic, as it crossed the modern road bridge. Eleanor, now stood looking down the canal, in the direction of Barton, her eyes flicked rapidly upwards, from the water, to the bridge and back again. There was nothing to be seen and the last few scary moments gradually began to fade away in the warm sunshine.

She began to breathe again and her heart slowly eased it’s pumping. Just to be certain, she sneaked a swift glance, back the way that she had come. Initially, it appeared to be exactly the same as it had been moments before, but then, as Eleanor scanned the area she noticed that the bundles of discarded ragged material, seemed a little larger.

Then there were, what appeared to be some ripples on the surface of the water, and they were heading in her direction. Transfixed, something else caught her eye. That bundle of rags was moving and it was getting larger, as she watched it. As the ripples in the water slowly approached, so did the tatters of material, that now seemed to be forming themselves into a kind of floating writhing ball.

Fear took hold, 'this is impossible,' her mind screamed, as she turned again now desperately looking for some sanctuary, from the macabre vision advancing swiftly upon her. Terror gripped her soul, as she realised her plight. She had waited too long, there was no where to hide, no possibility of escape. Flight was now impossible, the whirling rags, were almost upon her. Out of the corner of her eye, Eleanor could see the ripples advancing down the waterway and she knew instinctively, that the storm was about to break. She started to run but the ripples were faster and would soon bring the spectre down upon her.

“Stop and fight, Eleanor,” called a little voice in her head. It sounded like a child’s gentle tone and the plaintive cry seemed to be coming from far away, but she clearly heard it. It was a pleading invocation that came from high above the deeper sound of her thumping heart. The voice grew louder as her leg muscles started to scream,

“Eleanor, don’t go quietly,” it shrieked, “stop and fight Eleanor!” Instinctively she acted upon it’s frenzied instructions. Gripping hold of the handle on the kit bag, she stopped.

Taking one great swing of her holdall and aiming for the perceived position, of the 'Raggedy Man,' who was pursuing her, Eleanor put the last of her strength into one mighty swing. The kit bag missed it’s intended target and such was the force of her swing, that the straps could not withstand the strain and snapped. The holdall and all of her equipment, flew harmlessly through the air, landed in the Hollow and rolled out of sight, but Eleanor did not notice. The swirling rag being was almost upon her. She turned to run, the camera that hung around her neck, still set to take another shot, every 2 seconds. Then something hard and cold, encased the top of her head and something sharp, dug into her flesh and just tore away huge lumps of her skin. In the first moments of the attack, she lost one of her eyes from its socket and it just hung uselessly down the side of her face.

Eleanor, instinctively reached up towards her tortured brow, and cradled her dangling eyeball. Eleanor Ross, never even had a chance to scream. The chilling hand, effortlessly forced her head back while something slid easily through the soft flesh of her throat, slicing it from ear to ear. Then, released from the entity’s grip, Eleanor fell helplessly forward, desperately trying to breathe. Try as she might, she could not regain her feet and she could feel the strength draining out of her body. So, she raised her one free hand, to her torn neck, in a hopeless attempt to close the wound. Then, with one last futile effort, Eleanor managed to raise herself slightly and began to crawl on all fours. Her desperate attempt to stay alive was swiftly dispatched, when four white blades penetrated through her stricken body. Her sagging head allowed her to observe the blades, as they pierced her chest, before withdrawing again, through her back, only to run stab her body again and again, as she her one eye gradually blacked out and her life was extinguished in a frenzy of penetrations.

Her merciless assailant, amply satisfied with his murderous work, then silently rolled her lifeless body, into the edge of The Hollow and left her violently abused corpse there, for the birds to feast upon as he disappeared.

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