Dark Valley

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chapter 8



The morning after the night before. I had never hit Ivy before, I had never hurt her. I hurt her badly yesterday. I hit her and then I hurt her in a way I had never thought I would. I woke early, the morning light crawling into the room and sleep withdrew from me chased away from the light. I woke like I had the day before, my sleep was fractured and torn. The events of yesterday crawled into my memory as the sleep left. The shelter of sleep, however fitful, was gone. Reality was all around, no escape or sanctity in the morning light. Ivy lay asleep beside me in the bed. I studied her as she lay quietly snoring and breathing easily. Her hair was spread across her face ruffled and wild from sleep. Her skin was pale and her eyes, even after the night, were swollen and red from the tears she had cried last night and late into the night. I gently brushed the hair from her face and as I did so the angry purple bloom on her temple was revealed to my horror. The emotion started to build in me and finally I was over whelmed. The lump in my throat grew and spread. I choked up tears. Hot and angry tears of self-loathing. As I looked out of the window, with my wife in bed asleep beside me I could see the sun shine walking slowly over the higher ground out of the valley. I put my hand on her shoulder, she turned and murmured in her sleep. The wife that yesterday I had hit and raped.

I went downstairs and left her in her sleep. I put the coffee machine on. Normally I love the smell of the coffee in the morning. This morning it was cloying and putrid. It reminds me of yesterday. Erebus took me yesterday and I understood that this is the way that it would be now. Erebus caused me to do the damage, now I have to pick up the pieces. As Ivy had sat crying in the bathroom, small and vulnerable, last night the presence of Erebus had slipped from me and left me with the consequences of what I had done. She had not spoken to me and locked herself in the bathroom. I stood outside in the dark hall way and listened to her quiet and private sobs.

“Good morning” I spoke to her gently, lovingly.

“Is it?” She replied.

She opened her blood shot ice blue eyes and sought my eyes out with them. I could not gauge what she was thinking. Her eyes seemed to be screened, distant, not for me to look into. She looked away from me, looked down.

"Tell me why you did that last night" she asked quietly, deliberately. She lay on her back looking at the ceiling.

"I am not sure how to be who I used to be" my confession began. I told her about Erebus, told her about the battle for possession of my soul.

"I knew something was going on," she rolled over and put her head on my chest. She still didn't look at me.

"Why didn't you tell me about this?" She asked of me.

"We have shown dozens of schizophrenic people the exit, I didn't want to be the next one that gets cleansed"

Her hand traced small circles around my stomach. The tips of her finger swirling in the hair below my navel. Despite myself I became aroused by her attention.

"Maybe you were right yesterday, maybe we should put all that behind us and just live or lives like ordinary people. Do you think we could do that?" Her voice was still small and quiet.

"Do you still want me after what I did to you last night?" The hot flood of tears welled in my eyes again.

"Janus, it has been a rollercoaster this week, but now I understand. I feel closer to you now than I ever have before. This last week or two has changed the way I feel. I have never really felt anything before. I was always just sort of numb and empty. Just wandered through life doing what gave me the biggest thrill I could find. Now I feel. So, you see, if we can keep Erebus out of your head then of course I want you."

I held her tightly to my chest.

This was to be the first day of our new life and all of the terrors of the past were to be destroyed. I went out to the yard full of the new challenges and new ideas I would be putting in to place. The sun was high in the sky and the shadows of the strip valley walls had been pushed back. The warmth of the spring sun on my skin was a welcome reminder of the beautiful place that I called home.

I would have to deal with the whore that still lay low in the bottom of Pol's woods. I didn't really want to dig her up and move her, she had been there for access and would be pretty decomposed by now. I decided that the pigs could do a job for me over there. I would get them ready by not feeding them full measures for a couple of days. When they get over there they would grub her up and eat everything, even bones and teeth. The teeth would pass straight through them but that would be no problem, the way pigs dig into the ground they would bury them and next year undergrowth would cover the whole area.

Tamworth pigs like their food, two days into half rations they were becoming quite difficult. They are a big animal and when there are hungry animals they become quite difficult to control. However, a bucket of pig nuts gets their undivided attention fairly well.

Later that evening I got into the truck and went up to see Pol and fleur. I needed to step up my game with Fleur. Whilst Ivy and I had decided to change our lives and leave the madness behind us we still needed to clean up after ourselves. The threat of Pol’s enquiring mind was ever present and needed to be eliminated. The last thing I wanted was to sort ourselves out, move to live as an ordinary couple, then for Pol to stumble across something in months or years and it all to come crashing down around our ears.

I had waited until I saw him going out on his bike and then popped up there. Every chance I took to be in his awareness as a threat and spend even a moment with Fleur alone was worth taking.

I drove into their yard. The sun was setting and threw long shadows across the sunlit stones. I parked my truck and walked across to the house. As I stepped up to knock on the front door it opened in front of me.

“Oh you made me jump!” exclaimed Fleur as she stepped out of the door nearly into my arms. Quickly I stepped forward and put my hands on her shoulders as if to stop her stepping into me, but really so that if we were being watched so that it would look like an embrace.

“Sorry, how are you guys doing?” I asked, it had been sometime since we had seen them and it was nice to see Fleur, it was a shame she would have to suffer the way I intended for my plan to succeed.

“We are okay, Pol is working very hard on his next book at the moment. He spends half his life on the computer and the other half in the woods checking his deer!” She said. “Anyway, come in, I was just about to start to brew some coffee, Pol is training and I expect he will be home pretty soon” She added.

“That would be nice, I actually have come to see Pol,” I said.

We chatted for a few minutes about general things and made small talk then I moved on to wanting to put the pigs in the wood. I told her they would be going to slaughter soon and the woods would help to strengthen the flavour because they would eat brambles and bulbs. I didn’t mention that they would also enjoy snacking on the dead whore that I had buried there.

Within a few minutes the front door opened and in stepped pol. He was sweating and breathing hard. I knew how hard he trained and I knew that he would have pushed himself to the limit on his bike.

“Hi Matey” he said to me.

“Hello Pol”, I replied. I searched his eyes for any hint of any threat or concern about me being in the house with his wife. There was none, he simply looked pleased to see me.

“Coffee smells good, I love the smell of coffee in the morning, smells like … victory” he laughed at his own joke.

“Yeah, Fleur had just put it on when I turned up. Pol, I have come to ask you a question, mate. Well more of a favour really”

“Oh yeah, what’s that mate?” He stood facing me and as we chatted he had peeled off his grey training t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms, he was now stood talking to me in his boxer shorts. I saw Fleur look over him, there was a hunger in her eyes. I had never seen that hunger in Ivy’s eyes. I suddenly felt quite angry and jealous. I couldn’t understand why they should have something I never had.

“Could I finish my pigs off in the woods down by the river?”

“Yes, of course you can” was his prompt reply. “Just don’t put them on that little meadow I have cut down there. That’s for Bambi and his uncle.” We laughed at his joke about the Disney character knowing that he would be down there with his rifle and looking to “Harvest” Bambi or his uncle this week.

We sat down and had a coffee; Fleur, Pol in his boxer shorts and me in my knowledge. Pol was enthused about his new book and talking about how he could probably get it finished in three or four months. The publishers were on his back for it. Hs first book had now hit the shelves in the supermarkets and was selling well. They wanted the next book with his name on to get out in t’s wake. Cash in. He was writing a book quite different to his first and that was a bit of a gamble he would take. The next one, Crossing a River, was about crime in Hull where he had come from.

After maybe an hour, time passed quickly with them - despite myself I could not help but like them, Pol got up and said he was going for a shower.

I had a few more minutes with Fleur and stood up to make my way home

She’s next.

First thing next morning I pulled on my wellies and walked out into the mist filled valley. I walked across the stream in some rapids. It was called a river, but in the spring and summer it was nothing more than a stream, clear and cold even in the hottest weather. I paddled across the stream and saw in front of me the small fish dart to cover, trout, I think.

The woods were dark still, light had not penetrated them. They were pendulous and deeply shadowed. I needed to plan where the pigs were going to go. Get the fence lines planed. I needed to just be sure in my mind where she was so that she was in the middle of the pig pen. Before the bang on my heads I wouldn’t need to do this I would have been confident in my own memory and ability but now it was difficult to be confident and strong.

The smell of the leaf litter and mould was fresh in my nostrils. The warmth of the summer soil had started nature on its summer revival. A wood pigeon gave its throaty and deep call in the woods. The leaves from last autumn no longer crunched as they had rotted down and were slowly returning to the soils fertility. A patch of red topped fungi announced my destination. Maybe they especially thrive on dead junkies, I laughed to myself a little at that suggestion. They were a clear sign post for me as I got to them I recognised the place, this was it.

The pig move went according to plan. I did not move the pigs until last thing in the evening. I knew they would be straight to this place, they love fungi and they love carrion. It would give them all night to dispose of her as I knew they would. They were very efficient waste disposal units indeed. They were in now doing their job. In just a single night all traces would be gone. She would be erased, like she had never existed.

June 6th 2011

It has been a struggle keeping myself together over these past few weeks. I have not made the entries in my journal as I prefer to on a daily basis. I feel my plan is coming to fruition with regards to Pol and Fleur. I will prise them apart and the cracks are already beginning to show between them.

The pigs have been in the woods a couple of days now and whilst I haven’t been across to check I am quite sure that they will have done the business for me. I didn’t want to check more than I normally would as a part of the daily stock checks.

The tension between Pol and Fleur seems to be palpable now. I asked them if they would come for a drink last night and Pol declined. Really unlike him, normally he is quite happy for any excuse to drink. When I asked him what was wrong he said “Well, you know mate, I am very busy with the book and I have not spent much time with Fleur lately so I want to spend some time with her”.

This morning I waited until I saw him go out on his bike and then I went up to the house to see Fleur, to keep the drips landing in the drip feeding of doubt. I pulled into the yard and I walked over to the house. I knocked at the door but there was no reply. It was a bit of a surprise. But the dogs know me now so wont bark anyway. It was important to see her and to get into the house out of sight. Anything could happen inside. If he was watching the house I needed to get inside.

I walked round to the back of the house where I found Fleur hanging washing out near the conservatory.

“Hi Fleur, how are you doing?”

“Well I’m ok thanks,” She replied uneasily. She was nervous. She would not make eye contact and was looking all around. She scanned the track leading up to the farm, looked to the edge of the woods.

The plan was working. She did not feel comfortable around me and was looking to see if Pol was watching. I think they must have had some kind of an argument of some sort of falling out. She looked like she was scared that he might come back at any time.

“Do you want some pork? The pigs will be going for processing next week”.

“No thanks.” A very short answer. She was very distant. Very stand offish with me.

“Shall I pop in and put the kettle on, Fleur?”

“No, really, it’s ok. Thank you” She continued with hanging the washing out. The brevity of the answers that she gave was punctuated by the over the top politeness and manners.

She said nothing more and turned her back to me. That was the end of the conversation. I walked back to the truck and got in. I was happy that the plan had started to work. Not much longer and they would be away from the valley. It is important that I continue to keep the pressure on this relationship. I drove from their yard and on to the track down to the road. As I pulled onto the road I could see Pol’s fluorescent yellow training jacket bobbing along the road heading back from the town. I was pleased he had seen me leaving the driveway. Things would soon come to a head and then the plan would have worked out.

I sent an SMS to Pol, “Hello mate do you fancy some training tomorrow?”

He made no reply. A little later I tried again “Running in the morning mate?”

He eventually sent “sorry mate, too busy with this writing”

Clearly it was working with him too. I think he suspects I am mucking about with Fleur. I will try and catch him tomorrow when he is training and tag along with him.

7th June 2011

I awoke after a good night’s sleep with a clear aim for the day. I was to catch up with Pol out on his training ride. I would run with him and it would give me the chance to check out his attitude towards me. Of late his routine had changed a little and he was out training in the afternoon most days. I would think that he would write in the morning in the sunshine up on the hill and then after lunch has settled he would get out on his bike. Yesterday it was towards three pm when I saw him go out.

The morning was filled with normal, routine and mundane jobs I have to do every day, feeding animals, weeding the garden. I suppress a little laugh as I write as I know that the pigs are busy weeding down in the woods. I am hoeing up weeds in the garden whilst they are weeding out whores in the woods. The time seemed to drag slowly on wards as I waited for the chance to go out with Pol. I watched his farm as I watched my watch. I stood in the garden hoeing out the weeds and trying to apply myself to these tasks whilst I continued to count down the minutes. Why should time stand still like this?

Ivy had prepared a lunch of salad and cold chicken from the night before. We sat and ate at the table, I tried to make conversation to pass the time but my preoccupation prevented me from getting into anything more than a really casual chat. I would lose the threads of the conversation and have to ask “sorry, what was that?” This seemed more important than it should. I was desperate to start this new life and get rid of any threat from the past.

“Maybe, we could just have them as friends?” Said Ivy.

“I don’t know, I don’t know what they are capable of” I replied to her.

“They know nothing and they are no threat to us, if they knew something they would have gone to the police by now”.

“Maybe they are watching and waiting for us to make a mistake and then they can go to the police when we have blood on our hands”

“I doubt it” She said “I think if they suspected anything then they would go to the police straight away”

“Maybe but I don’t want to take the risk” I answered.

“Have you thought, Jan, that what you are actually makes us more at risk than doing nothing?” She asked, quietly.

There was a moment of dawning upon me. A moment of realisation that I might have opened a chain of events that now we could not stop, could not steer, could not control as it careered to its ultimate conclusion.

“No, no, I don’t think so” I said to myself, she was incidentally in the room.

Doubt was sown in my mind at that time. I had been solid in my plan and knew exactly what would happen but now it was all blown wide apart.

“No, No, that won’t be the case.” The self-affirmation was not soothing. I really needed to get out on the road and wait for him.

Slowly and meticulously I changed into my training kit. I pulled on my running tights, pulled my vest over my head and as I pulled each sock on over my feet I unrolled them with precision and care. I needed to do anything to stop my mind working to stop the doubts creeping. The moment that the doubts started to invade my thoughts I knew, full well who would come in with them. I had tried to ignore his interjection yesterday. I tried to just let it pass me by.

Ivy came up and stood with me in the bedroom as I changed into the familiar comfort of my running gear. She didn’t say anything to me. She leant against the window ledge. The walls of this part of the house were deep and cold. Made of the grey stone hewn from the mountainsides and cold to the touch even in the warmest summer. Under the layer of modern acrylic paint, under the layer of new thistle plaster, beneath the old horse hair and lime plaster and render the old grey rocks still beat in the heart of the cold house.

I was ready and in my training gear. I kissed her on the cheek as I went out.

“I believe in you” she smiled to me as I passed her and left the room. My mind focused and set on the task in hand. At least one of us did.

I picked my way down the road to the bend between my drive and not far from his. I was in a place where I could see his house and could, if need be, get to either side of the track depending on whether he turned right or left from his drive. I would have to push hard to take the higher road but I knew that I could make it in the time it would take him to get his bike up there.

I stood and waited for him. The late spring was slowly turning into summer and the insects buzzed on their lives impervious to the world that rotated about them. The sunshine was slowly penetrating the fresh green leaves above me and reaching the ground all around me as I stood in the dappled shade of my patience. I stood still, my back was to the trunk of a great beech tree, autumn’s beech mast had lost its crunch and was cushioned underfoot.

It was warm and calm, the breeze had dropped off and the clouds had left the sky open and blue above the canopy of the beech. High above on the thermals I saw a bird. He was soaring high, seemingly a speck on the edge of my vision. I watched him I watched him wheel in circles. He was so high, I could not make him out clearly but he had entrapped my focus now. I recognised his shape now. He was not a buzzard. He was a raven. His long and broad wings were straighter than a buzzard, his tail narrow and wedge shaped at the end. At the very edge of my hearing I heard his voice. Far away, distant and lost. He croaked my name.

Time was passing and up on the hill there was still no movement from pol. This was getting ridiculous. I watched the house for some time, the cars were there in the yard. Occasionally I could see a figure coming or going. No sign of Pol in his fluorescent training gear.

I glanced back at the raven, he was gone; the sky was vast, deep and empty.

There was movement at the house. A figure moved across the yard and out to the car. It was not Pol. It was Fleur. She got in and I watched the car door shut. The sound, disjointedly, made its way down to me a second later.

The Freelander turned in the yard and started to move towards the track. He was not in it with her. Slowly it moved down the driveway towards the road. If she turned left she would pass within a few yards of me. The four wheel drive stopped at the junction and turned left. She would pass me in a few minutes. I needed to make sure I was well concealed.

She’s next.

I knew there would be no way I could resist him. He had already shown me he was the dominant one.

I am you, you are me. You know we are the same. This is your chance to take her. Take her and kill her. Feed her to the pigs like the other fucking whore. Let her rot in the woods.

The raven was in the trees. He was with me like my watcher, my guardian angel in black. I couldn’t see him but I knew he was there his voice was calling my name but in his croaky language.

I could see the bitch driving her car down the track towards me. She was slow and cautious, just what I needed to see. She was about four hundred yards away and out of sight when I jumped over the hedge and on to the road. I could hear how slowly she drove as I lay myself down in the road. I knew there would be time for her to stop before getting to me. There were no other cars on that quiet and empty track.

She rounded the bend and drew to a stop. It was impossible for me to look as I was facing the other way. The seconds ticked by as I imagined the bitch looking at me laying in the road. I imagined her thinking what to do. Stupid cunt, she would so get what she has coming to her. The car door slammed and I heard her light footsteps as she ran over too me.

“Janus!” She shouted.

“Janus are you ok?” Her voice sounded panicky and she was struggling to keep it together.

My heart beat steadily in my chest I was perfectly calm and collected. Our destinies were closely intertwined and there was only one way this would end up. She reached down and touched my shoulder and shook it gently.

“Jan, wake up, oh my god, oh my god!”

She let go of me. This was the second. This was the moment where I could remove her from threatening us ever again. In an easy and fluid movement I spun onto my back. She was bent over me on her knees. There was a split second during which she recognised the danger and then I grabbed her throat with my right hand. The piston like force of the impact on her caused her to choke and knocked her back onto her arse.

Get in the car you fucking whore, its time you fucking realised who the fuck you are dealing with.”

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