Part Seven - The Unveiling
Gregory Hickman lit his third cigarette; he had been sat in his Mondeo estate for over three hours. He had watched the Paranatural agency team leave the university at around eight in the evening; he then followed them all the way to the Owl tavern where they had remained ever since. Gregory almost decided to turn in for the night, he had come to the conclusion that the team were simply out for drinks and not as he had hoped on a ghost busting escapade. Suddenly he saw Hector Saint-Sanson and Dark Alice leave the tavern followed by Dan Taylor and Diane Appleton. He watched Hector and Alice walk over to a grey Austin A30 that was parked in the tavern car park. Dan appeared to be saying goodbyes to Diane after which he joined both Hector and Alice as they climbed into the Austin. Diane had walked away probably on her way home he thought. He watched the Austin pull away from the tavern before following them some way behind in his Mondeo, maybe tonight wouldn’t be another waste of time he thought.
Hector parked in the station car park, it was practically devoid of other vehicles. They all left the car which was then locked by Hector. Dan was clutching a brown leather holdall containing his investigative equipment.
‘What time is it?’ enquired Alice. Dan glanced at his watch,
‘It’s a quarter past eleven, last train should have passed through unless it’s late’ Dan said as he opened his bag and began to rummage within.
‘The last train has gone, look at the car park, it’s practically empty other than that Mondeo over there, which implies all the passengers have arrived and removed their vehicles. Come on.’ Hector added and then strode off in the direction of the tunnel at the end of the platform. Alice and Dan followed. Gregory quietly opened the door of his Mondeo that he had parked moments earlier in a dark crepuscular corner of the station car park; he closed his vehicle’s door with the same care before quietly following Hector, Dan and Alice towards the tunnel.
The moon shone down and illuminated the platform of Carfax Abbey station reflecting off the rain polished cobbles and smooth grey brickwork and bathing the whole scene rather eerily.
“Which one of us is prepared to call the name and stand and face the door of darkness?” Alice asked whilst zipping up her parka just short of her chin.
“While yet a boy I sought for ghosts, and sped through many a listening chamber, cave and ruin, and starlight wood, with fearful steps pursuing hopes of high talk with the departed dead!” Hector said aloud, Dan and Alice realised that he was talking to himself. Hector emerged out from his mental musings and noticed the puzzled faces of his two companions, ‘Sorry, I was just reciting a favourite quotation of mine, name eludes me for the moment though. I’m sorry, did you ask me something?’
‘Which one of us is going to call for the spirit of Roland Frapples?’ Alice repeated.
‘I will, unless…’ Dan answered now clutching an operational EMV detector.
‘Okay Dan, I will follow you in as soon as I have psyched myself up a bit!’ said Alice as she closed her eyes and began to inhale deeply.
Dan stepped into the tunnel and placed a hand upon the damp brickwork that edged its foreboding mouth.
‘Roland! Roland Frapples can you hear my voice, are you there?’ Dan repeated the words cupping his hands around his mouth, his voice echoed along the tunnel. He peered inside and saw nothing except the dark which at times appeared to swirl and shift. Dan blinked and strained his eyes as a current of cold air began to filter along the passage towards him.
Hector and Alice had now positioned themselves either side of Dan, the trio were suddenly facing a gale emanating from deep inside the tunnel that threatened to knock them all down. Hector was pushed flat down onto the ballast, struggling he got back to his feet and grasped hold of the side of the tunnel and turned back to face his two companions. Dan was beckoning for him to get back to them, holding up his EMV detector that was bleeping erratically. As he pushed into the forceful air Hector buttoned up the front of his Crombie overcoat and held onto the fedora he was wearing to prevent the wind from stealing it away, he reached into his coat pocket and drew out his large quartz crystal, a fluorescent light now pulsed within it.
Alice now with eyes wide open peered into the tunnel and began to see something emerging out of the gloom somewhere midway. It was black in there and whatever she could see had luminosity of its own making. Was it a train thought Alice? It came closer and closer and Alice instantly recognised it as a person, hideously deformed, its entire countenance shone like fire. Dan and Hector also were able to see the form slowly making its way towards them, steam appeared to emanate from its head and its eyes shone like lamps through the darkness.
The thing was seated in a wheeled chair and its arms were frantically propelling itself forward, Dan obeyed a primal instinct and turned to run trying to pull Alice and Hector with him but both of his friends were glued to the spot. All three of them could hear the squeaking wheels of Roland Frapples in fiery pursuit. Alice stepped forward,
‘Please! We mean you no harm! We came here to speak to you…to try to help you. You do want help don’t you?’ Alice’s voice had a confident tone even though she felt like running and screaming all the way out of the tunnel. Her words seemed to have an effect on Roland, the wheels of his chair became still and he appeared to sit hunched, his huge head lolling to one side, listening to Alice as she continued to speak. ‘It must be awful for you, being trapped down here, in the dark, and the damp. You must want to leave here? You’d like that wouldn’t you?’ Hector noticed that Roland now seemed to be sobbing, he was holding out his two powerful hands in a gesture that meant that he wanted them to go to him, to help him. Dan looked at Hector, Hector shook his head,
‘Don’t move Dan, Let Alice finish’ he whispered. Alice now slowly stepped along the tracks between the sleepers; she kept her eyes fixed on Roland,
‘I can help you, I have helped many others trapped like you, now they are free, away from the dark, let me help you Roland’ Hector watched as the quartz crystal continued to strobe even more frantically.
Gregory Hickman flicked away the remains of another cigarette butt; he was watching the mouth of the tunnel from a bench on the platform. He had seen Hector, Alice, and Dan go inside but none of them had since returned. He knew what they must be up to, everyone in Carfax knew about this place, but nobody had ever seen anything and lived to tell, perhaps tonight he would see it, and if he was lucky he might even get a photograph. Growing impatient, Gregory removed the lens cover from his digital camera and dropped down onto the railway tracks. Keeping to the sleepers he quietly made his way into the tunnel.
Alice now had her eyes firmly closed; she tried hard to concentrate on the emotions she could now feel that travelled on the wind all the way from Roland to her. Alice continued to reassure Roland, to tell him that now he could go, he didn’t have to stay down here in this lonely place anymore. She was only feet away from Roland now.
‘Alice be careful’ Dan shouted a warning. Alice opened her eyes and looked back at both Dan and Hector,
‘Rolly just wants to tell his story before he moves on, I’ve just had a complete flashback of his life, it was so sad’
‘Just be careful, we’re here if you need us!’ said Dan, Hector nodded in agreement.
‘Sometimes spirits need a bit of coaxing before they make their special journey to the other side, I am going to ask Rolly why he harmed all those people, I can give him a blessing if he tells me why he did it, he wants to tell me I can feel it, he wants reassurance like a child needs tucking up in bed at night’. Alice said before closing her eyes again.
Hector again examined his crystal, the yellow glow had turned blood red, he made his way after Alice ignoring Dan’s warning that she would be angry with him for interrupting her at such a delicate moment. Hector knew something was wrong, even though the figure in the wheelchair looked serine enough he had never seen one of his crystals act the way it was, but before He had reached Alice another spectral form appeared from behind Roland, the figure was wearing a uniform of some kind and it now advanced on Alice momentarily merging its own form with that of Roland as it stepped straight through him.
Alice felt this new presence and immediately she opened her eyes; a skull like face with eyes that burned like embers scowled menacingly at her. The figure was a man and was wearing a uniform complete with cap; he lifted a long thin arm to point at her,
’Woman, you ssstand in my way!’ The phantom hissed. Alice gasped for breath; the new emotions she was drawing in from this new presence were strong and overpowering. Hector ran towards Alice,
‘Alice get back, that thing is a negative entity, it wants to harm you!’ Shouted Hector before the uniformed figure used its other arm to send a blast of what appeared to be steam at Hector knocking him down onto the tracks.
’Thing? I am no thing. I am a man, you insssult me!’ The figure spoke angrily, his eyes now burning like a furnace. Hector got back to his feet for the second time that night; Alice had shuffled backwards and bumped into him; he gripped her hand tightly. Dan was running down the tunnel to join them.
‘I’m sorry, you’re dead! The time for being a man is over’. Spat Hector. The figures head fell back on its shoulders and let out a long drawled scream into the roof of the tunnel before signalling to Roland who had suddenly snapped out of his episode of hunched whimpering. Rolland used his powerful large hands to slowly turn the wheels on his chair and advance towards the trio.
’Run! Shouted Dan, the three of them ran towards the moonlit end of the tunnel and were momentarily blinded by flashing brilliant white lights. Gregory Hickman had quickly taken a series of photographs of the impossible scene deep in the tunnel before he himself turned and fled. Suddenly Alice found that her legs were glued to the ground. She fought and clawed at her ankles as two powerful hands on incredibly long arms held her like a vice.
‘Hector! Dan, I…I…’ Hector turned to see Alice being retracted back into the tunnel towards the two shimmering visitants. Reaching into his coat pocket he pulled out the quartz crystal still strobing in a calescent manner and hurled it towards Roland, it shattered on one of the large iron wheels of Roland’s chair engulfing both Roland and the uniformed figure in an explosive pink firework display that seemed to absorb all of their manifestation energy. Alice’s ankles were freed and Hector and Dan helped guide her out of the tunnel. Once outside they all got their breath back, Dan was the first to look back into the tunnel,
‘Gone, both of them, gone!’ He said still gulping in the cold night air. All three of them heard a screech from car tyres as a black Mondeo shot out from the station car park. ‘Who was that?’ Dan said aloud puzzled,
‘Never mind that help me with Alice’ said Hector, Alice was leaning into Hector heavily, he feared she was about to collapse. Dan helped Hector guide Alice towards the car that was waiting faithfully, bathed in the yellow glow from a street lamp. ‘Help me get her inside, she needs to sit down’ Hector said as he and Dan gently eased her into the car,
‘I-I’m ok, really I…god my feet hurt!’ Alice winced as she bent down to pull her black jeans up a little way to expose her ankles; both of her ankles were red and blistered. ‘That’s where he had me, held me!’ she said now sitting back against the old leather seat.
‘Alice are you ok, is there anything I can do for you?’ Dan asked concerned because Alice looked shaken and obviously injured.
‘It’s okay; just get me home please if you would’. Hector started the ignition as Dan belted himself in the front passenger seat; he swivelled around to check on Alice as Hector drove away from the station.
Alice hobbled slightly up the garden path all the way up to the front door of the small terraced house she rented along with her girlfriend Erika, Dan and Hector were both close by her side in case she wobbled; she didn’t look at all steady on her feet. Before Alice could produce a door key from out of her coat pocket the door was opened to reveal a tall attractive young woman wearing a thick pink dressing gown. Alice almost fell into her,
‘Alice? Alice oh my god what’s wrong?’ said Erika as she helped Alice inside. Hector and Dan stepped into the hallway feeling as though they were intruding a little too much into Alice’s private world, a world far apart from Haunted dolls, witches, or wheelchair bound ghouls. Alice now able to stand steady shrugged off the overprotective attentions of Erika.
‘I’m fine, really, just need a rest, it was a bit intense tonight that’s all’ Said Alice faking a smile as she rubbed her eyes. ‘Thanks for bringing me home, sorry to be a pain!’
‘Don’t be silly it’s the least I could do!’ said Hector. Erika had been taking it all in slowly but had seen and heard enough to realise who these two men now standing in her hallway were.
‘It’s you isn’t it, the paranormal whatsits! What the hell’s been going on, look at the state she’s in!’ Erika was furious, Dan stepped towards her in an apologetic manner, before he could speak Alice spoke,
‘Erika please, don’t blame them, it’s my job!’
‘Job? It’s not your job, you don’t get paid! It’s your hobby, and one I don’t approve of, oh it makes me sick to think…’ Erika was cut short as Alice kissed her on the lips,
‘I love you, I know you worry, but I’m alright, please could you make me a coffee babe, I really need it!’ Reluctantly Erika left all three of them and went into the kitchen. ‘Thanks for bringing me home, and don’t you two worry I’m fine now, other than some sore ankles, you must both be tired, I’ll come round to the office in a couple of days, we still have a lot of work to do’. Hector and Dan both nodded,
‘Whatever was manifesting in that tunnel tonight was purely malevolent. I’m no psychic but I could feel it!’ said Hector grimly.
‘I felt resentment, deep resentment, but not evil. Let’s all sleep on it, mull over what we have then we can decide what we are going to do about it!’ replied Alice. Hector and Dan both said goodnight to Alice, Dan was about to shout goodbye to Erika who was still in the kitchen, but then thought better of it. Alice closed her front door behind her two friends then leaned against it exhaling deeply.
‘Coffee’s ready babe!’