Part Two - The Story of Roland Frapples
Hetty and Manfred Frapples had been married for forty years and had lived in Carfax Abbey all their lives as did both their parents, and their parent’s parents. They lived in a small leaning cottage about a mile outside the centre of the town, a couple of hundred meters from Brackley Copse.
Hetty and Manfred’s marriage was not a happy one by any means, Manfred a huge beast of a man frequently beat his wife who often needed treatment by the local surgeon and in a time before anaesthetics.
One fateful occasion spurred by an ill prepared supper, a well-oiled Manfred beat Hetty ferociously even though she was heavy with child. Hetty survived as usual but with a newly positioned nose, not all together flattering and a general cause of amusement for Manfred for years to come. The child Hetty was carrying at the time of the beating did not fare so well, Roland Frapples was born lame, with a misshapen head and unable to hear or speak.
Hetty assumed Roland was an idiot in fact she hoped and prayed he was and they both treated him as such. Manfred feeling momentarily guilt ridden for the life he had bestowed upon his only child built Roland a sort of wheel chair using an old oak seat and two large and heavy pram wheels stolen from the local blacksmith. It was not a pleasing work of art but it was built solid and gave Roland mobility of sorts.
Roland would spend most of his days seated in his chair slowly rolling himself about town watching the other children dance and play the wheels of his chair squeaked terribly and became a sort of voice for the mute Roland. He was no idiot and he suffered terribly from the anguish of his disabilities.
The other children of the town never bothered him, instead they took pity on him and sometimes pushed him about the town and they affectionately called him Rolly. But time moves by and children grow up, move away, make new friends and new lives, but time always remained still for Roland. Roland was thirty years old by the time Hetty Frapples went mad.
Hetty never knew quite why she did what she did, maybe it was the fact she had started to drink, maybe because she was so miserably unhappy in her life, or perhaps just one beating too many. Nobody will ever know what coerced her to plunge her mother’s carving knife time and time again into Manfred’s chest as he lay sleeping. But she did.
Hetty enjoyed every thrust, every gore. Manfred was sliced and diced and his remains were spread across the top of the garden hedge as meaty offerings to the crows. All this was carried out under the watchful terrified eyes of Roland who cowered in the corner, in his chair whilst his mother cursed and hacked.
When Hetty was done with Manfred she wiped her hands down her apron and turned her attention to her deformed son. Roland’s hands were big and muscular from pushing himself around and needed to be tied to the arms of his seat extra tight by Hetty. When Roland was secured Hetty pushed him in his chair out of the house and along the crooked street that lead into the centre of town. Rolland craned his neck in time to see the gorging flocks squabbling over his father’s remains but Hetty twisted his lumpy crown back around and they continued their journey.
It took a tremendous act of strength for Hetty to get Roland and his chair down off the platform and onto the railway tracks. It was Saturday afternoon and there were only a sprinkling of people waiting for the next train due within ten minutes. At first nobody seemed to notice the crazy old woman at the far end of the station pushing a squeaking monstrous looking chair along with an equally monstrous occupant into the dark railway tunnel. Just as Hetty and Roland were about to be swallowed up by the blackness of the tunnel a solitary traveller happened to glance along the tracks hoping to see the lamp of his expected train. The man saw Hetty and the bucking head of Roland both disappear in the blackness, curious he began to move down the platform.
Hetty left Roland positioned in the centre of the tunnel, she kissed his head before backing off towards the platform. Roland knew what would happen to him if he remained on the tracks and struggled to break free of his bonds. When Hetty emerged from the tunnel she was crying and the curious traveller who had followed her down the platform helped her off the tracks, he asked her what was the matter but the wretched form of Hetty merely crumpled to the floor.
Inside the tunnel Rolland stopped fidgeting with his bonds and became rigid with fear, ahead of him he could see the shining lamp of the approaching train, a volcanic torrent of steam erupted from its funnel as it came hurling towards him. Roland at last found his voice and let out a panic-stricken screech which seemed to momentarily merge with the brakes of the engine as it slowed down ready for the approaching station, in the dark tunnel the driver didn’t see Rolly. Hetty rose from her position on the floor when she heard Rolland calling for her.
“Mother! Mother! Moth…”
“What have I done?” She cried.
“Yes what have you done?” Asked the traveller seconds before the engine ploughed into Rolland’s robust chair. The chair was heavy and somehow managed to derail the train which crashed into the side of the tunnel killing Roland and the driver instantly. Fortunately, the carriages remained on the tracks and the passengers were shaken rather than hurt.
Everyone in the town helped that day with clearing up the mess and consoling the family of the engine driver who it seemed was due to retire the following day with a tidy sum. Hetty was questioned by the Police and when she confessed to the murder of Manfred and Rolland she was imprisoned and treated as a lunatic, kept alive only at the wish of an Oxford doctor who wished to study her as an insight into the insane mind.
Over time the guards at the prison became slipshod when it came to locking old Hetty’s cell door, and one cold and windy night she slipped away unnoticed and returned to the railway station.
Old Hetty crawled into the mouth of the tunnel and sobbed forgiveness from Rolland whom she had left to die in the darkness that fateful day. Hetty had believed that it was the best way to end Roland’s pitiful life that she had created for him. And like pushing the dirt under the rug to avoid looking at it in an otherwise tidy home, Hetty pushed Roland into that tunnel.
She wept for hours until the prison eventually alerted of her escape found her heaving form slumped across the tracks. Before the Police could take her something amazing occurred. As if answering her voice, a distant sound echoed along and out of the tunnel, a metallic sound, a squeaking sound.
Hetty raised her head and took the full force of a raging wind that flowed from the tunnel. The wind was so strong it knocked her backwards and rolled her over and over until she was clear of the mouth of the tunnel. The Police officers who saw what happened next were changed men following the completion of their statements back at the station. In one of the statements an officer Brady recorded what everyone saw.
Hetty was dragged into the railway tunnel by two enormously powerful hands; the hands were attached to arms that defied belief for they were too long to belong to a being of any normal kind. The hands were steaming hot and burned into Hetty’s flesh like fiery tongs.
Hetty was dragged into the tunnel kicking and screaming, and how she screamed sent the onlookers blood into icy chills. No trace of Hetty was ever found and a local legend was created around the station of Carfax Abbey and the ghost of Rolly Frapples who it seemed would come for you if you called his name. And many a foolish teenager or drunkard did.