A couple of years ago, me and my now wife, Anna, decided we needed a short break away in the country to recharge our batteries and enjoy the outdoors. We looked at a lot of places before deciding on the small town of Camelford in Cornwall. We found ourselves a little cabin outside the town in a place called Juliots Well. It was a short drive from the town centre and gave us a good base to do other things in the area. We were very interested in visiting Tintagel, a castle surrounded in Arthurian legend, so Camelford seemed like the perfect place to stay.
We were over my wife’s parents’ house a few days before we set off; having dinner and talking about our impending trip. Anna’s Dad had a thoughtful expression for most of our visit, every now and again repeating “Camelford” to himself while scratching his head, as if the name was trying to bring something back to him – a memory or recollection. It was whilst getting our coats after dinner and saying our goodbyes when he finally shouted, “Camelford! That’s where I remember it from! Don’t drink the water down there!” He let out a little laugh as Anna’s mum rolled her eyes. I stood there for a moment, confused as to why this would be a problem. I asked him why we shouldn’t drink the water down there, and he said “Oh I was only joking, really. Back in the day, late eighties I reckon, they had a water pollution problem – metal in the water or something. It was a big scandal down there! It’s all fine now, nothing to worry about!” We all shared a laugh, mine mainly out of relief, and we set out on our way.
We set off the next day, enjoying the sweeping countryside was we drove through the narrow lanes to get to our home for the next few days. The site was bordered on all sides by tall, dark green trees with a small opening for us to enter. As we had come off-season, the camp was deserted when we arrived, so we got our pick of the large log cabins at the far end of the site. We ended up choosing the one we felt would be furthest away from any road noise next to an adjoining field. The silence and tranquility when we first arrived was almost eerie. It was like we had found an undiscovered land, untouched by humanity until our arrival.
After we had looked around the cabin and unpacked, we decided to head down to the local pub to get some food and drinks for the evening. As it was a fairly nice afternoon, we decided to walk down the county lanes into Camelford. A lot of the journey was spent ducking in and out of the bushes, dodging traffic before finding a pavement to make the rest of our journey. We got to a place called the Masons Arms, a small rustic pub on the main road through Camelford with a cream exterior and a hanging coat of arms above the door. As we entered, every beam in the ceiling was adorned with dozens of cups, pots and kettles. The bar was covered with bottles, flags and old pictures of stern looking women.
Anna stared in amazement at the amount hanging teacups above her head as we weaved towards an empty table near the window. A few of the regulars looked us up and down as we passed their perches before continuing to drink their ales and tell their tales. We got a friendly nod from the barman and perused the menu with interest. When we had decided, I went up to order and enquire about getting a taxi back to our accommodation. The barman, a fairly stout young man named Rich, gave me a card for a local cab company and told me to call them around twenty minutes before we were ready to go. As we were talking, his eyes flitted from the window, to the clock on the wall above the door and then back to me. He looked somewhat nervous, on edge. I shrugged it off, thinking maybe he was expecting more people to arrive, being a Friday and all.
As we ate and drank into the night, the atmosphere of the pub became livelier as more locals and holiday makers filled the tables around us in the small pub. There were people singing in the corner, a group playing pool behind us and energetic re-enactments of the recent football matches by the locals. I looked at my watch; it was around ten past eleven, so we decided to call the taxi to pick us up as we were planning a trip down to Tintagel the next day. The entire night, I kept my eye on Rich. He seemed to get more and more anxious with every passing minute. He pawed at his forehead with a folded up napkin, removing the buckets of sweat emanating from him. He started leaving the bar area and looking outside, up and down the road, pretending to collect glasses. He would check his phone and watch almost constantly and, when I asked if everything was OK, he simply let out a small chuckle and said “Just making sure no one’s causing trouble”.
It was while I was ordering the last drinks that we heard an almighty crash outside of the pub. When I first heard it, it sounded like a dull thudding followed by the smash of glass, perhaps a window. The thudding didn’t stop after the initial glass shatter, but it slowed down and became less ferocious, like whatever was making the noise was still trying to get in. Everyone went silent. Rich’s eyes closed, his shoulders dropped and he bent below the bar to retrieve something. He re-emerged with a thick wooden cricket bat and made his way to the door. Instinctively, I followed Rich to make sure he wouldn’t have to face whoever made that noise alone. I looked over to Anna who was now sat with a couple we had been talking to over dinner. She looked frightened and confused. I patted her arm, nodded and made my way to the door, followed by a few of the other bar patrons.
Rich opened the door. The moaning began. I will never forget that low, anguished murmur that came from…whatever this was. It sounded like a mixture between a guttural scream and a muzzled dog’s growl. Rich flung himself into the street and looked left and right, trying to find the source. As I looked down the road, I saw a figure limping slowly towards the bridge. “Rich!” I shouted, pointing towards the hobbling man. “Shit…” he whispered and ran towards him. I followed, being the only one of the group outside to do so. I looked back as the mob filed back into the pub. Suddenly, I heard Rich shout “Oi!” I tried to catch up, but by the time I had, I heard a small splash accompanied by a loud thud and crack.
When I got to Rich, he was looking over the side of the bridge. I stood beside him and watched as the shambling figure skulked down the shallow river. It was the first time I had got a good look at the moaning person.
The only thing I could make out for certain was that it was human. It looked emaciated with thin limbs, barely able to support its light frame. Its arms were wrapped tight around its head, as if it was in constant pain from a head wound. The arms obscured if the thing had a human skull or not, but the gurgled retching now emanating from the River Camel suggested it must at least have a mouth. As it disappeared from view around the corner, splashing and gibbering as it went, I turned to Rich, who looked on the verge of tears. “What was that?” I asked, unsure I really wanted to know the real answer. The seconds of silence after my question felt like hours, only broken by the creature’s occasional loud screams. Rich eventually turned, looked me right in the eyes and said, in a low whisper, “He’s the last one”.
Rich started walking back to the Masons Arms as I stood in bemusement. “What do you mean the last one?” I shouted after him. Quickly, Rich turned and scowled at me, putting his finger to his lips before beckoning me back to the pub. I followed immediately, not wanting to stay out on the bridge alone. By the time we got back, the pub was empty except a barmaid, the couple we had met that night and Anna. Rich locked the door behind me and turned the external lights off. Empty and silent, the pub felt inhospitable. The barmaid looked terrified, the couple – Simon and Vanessa – were huddled by the window together and Anna was pacing up and down, a look of concern dissipating when she saw me.”Has everyone else gone now, Mel?” Rich said, storing the cricket bat back underneath the ornate bar. A simple nod in his direction answered his question. His face softened as he put his hand on Mel’s arm. “It’s all safe for tonight. Go get some sleep”. She smiled and bid us all goodnight before grabbing her coat and exiting through the back door.
Shortly after, Simon and Vanessa left as well. They looked pretty shaken up so I walked them to their car and ran back to the pub to make sure Anna was holding up. “I’m fine,” she told me, “I just don’t know what’s going on” As she said that, Rich appeared from behind the bar. His steely gaze had now gone and was replaced by the nervous young man we had met a few hours earlier. “Sorry,” was the first word that left his mouth, “I’m sorry about all this. My parents usually deal with this sort of thing, but off-season they head up to Exeter. He doesn’t normally start appearing until mid-July!” Rich fought back tears and gave us a small smile to try and reassure us. I stood up and approached him, “Rich…What happened tonight? Who is he and what does he want?” I tried to speak calmly, but I was a shaken up as he was by the ordeal.
“He doesn’t want anything! It’s not his fault this happened to him or any of them! It was that bloody chemical that did this! It’s not fair! It’s not fair!” Rich started shouting and banging the bar with his fist. Anna stood up and put a hand on his shoulder, leading him to the table we were sat at. Rich put his head in his hands and sobbed quietly for a couple of minutes. “Let it out,” Anna said soothingly, “and when you’re ready, tell us everything”.
After pouring himself a cup of coffee, Rich sat down with us and took a deep breath. “That person you saw out there tonight was not a monster. Well…he never used to be. He was another victim of that chemical.”
“What chemical?” I asked, trying sound as calm as possible, “Is this the chemical in the water you were talking about? From the eighties?”
“Yes…Well, no…It started as that but only got worse. The original stuff they found in the water was an accident…” Rich was getting agitated again, his voice breaking with every other syllable. “It was when they tried to fix the problem, that’s when people started going missing again…”
Anna put her hand on his shoulder, “I think that’s enough for tonight. You need your rest and so do we”. She looked over at me and nodded. As I got my phone out to call for another cab, Rich looked down at his watch. “Is that the time?!” he exclaimed, “You’ll never get a cab around this time. Here, I’ll give you a lift home, it’s not that far”. We reluctantly accepted and followed him to his car. As we travelled back up that road, we stopped at the roundabout, Rich clearly being cautious at this time of morning. It sounds strange, but I was sure I felt eyes following us throughout our short trip, like were being hunted. Rich pulled up to the front entrance of Juliots Well and we thanked him. Rich pushed a small sheet of paper into my hand and grabbed me. “If you see…him again, call me right away. I have very strict orders of what to do when we find him.” I hesitated before nodding. He drove slowly away and we were left to head into the dark wooded area.
I held Anna’s hand tightly all the way to our cabin’s door, always looking over my shoulder, using my phone as a torch to make sure we could see what was ahead of us. When we got back to the cabin, I locked the door and turned the TV on. I couldn’t stand the silence and inky expanse of darkness outside, I needed something to distract me from the night’s events. We sat silently on the couch and looked at the flickering lights of the TV. Anna leaned her head on my shoulder. “We will have to go back and check on Rich tomorrow night, Pat”, she said, exhaustion heavy in her voice, “maybe he’ll be willing to tell us more tomorrow”. I agreed, knowing he would need the support as well. We had arranged to go to Tintagel Castle the next day, and we still would, but that evening they would go back to the Masons Arms and find out about the mysterious man. We both went to bed and I slept restlessly, every rustle of leaves or wind gust jolting me awake. My paranoia had gotten the better of me and all I could think of was the mysterious man, what the chemicals had done to him. I eventually fell into a restless sleep.
The next morning we head out to Tintagel, neither of us sleeping particularly well that night. We tried not to talk about what had happened the night before, thinking there would be time for that in the evening when we revisited the Masons Arms to see Rich. Anna offered to drive, saying I was in no fit shape to drive that morning. On the way, we drove through Camelford, seeing the damage caused by the man in broad daylight. The window of the Spar next door was completely smashed with a dark blood mark on the supporting wall. The more I stared at the destruction, the more my imagination ran riot with the shaky images I had of the man from the river.
We continued our journey, getting to the ancient castle around lunch time. As we got out of the car, the uneasy feeling from the drive back to the cabin returned. We made our way to the summit and looked across the beautiful scenery, all the while me feeling as if there was some kind of force keeping tabs on us. As we reached a small partially built wall, something darted down a primitive staircase and out of sight. Anna screamed and I jumped out of my skin in fright. When I had regained my wits, I went off in pursuit. I got my phone out, ready to call Rich as he asked. My heart was pounding as I rounded the corner, wondering what I would encounter. There was nothing there, just a large metal gate blocking a tunnel. I looked around frantically, both hoping to see something to prove I wasn’t crazy and hoping to avoid corning this…thing.
My heart rate lowered as Anna caught up with me. She took my phone off me, I had forgotten I had dialled Rich. He was now screaming down the phone to make sure we were OK. “Everything’s fine,” Anna said, slightly out of breath from chasing me, “whatever it was…it’s gone now” I approached the large gate, partially shrouded in darkness from an overhanging rock formation. It looked sturdy, like it would last thousands of years if required. As I move closer and closer, this image of stability fell away, noticing the rust on the joints between bars, the high wind rattling a few of them. The lock looked new, like it was the only part of the gate renewed in decades. It was then I noticed something that froze me in place.
In the bottom right hand corner, two of the bars were bent and battered out of their holdings, as if by a scared animal trying to break free. My stomach churned as I got closer and noticed a small pool of blood on the stones around it with what looked like torn flesh on the bars. Whatever it was that was following us didn’t want itself seen, and did anything it could to get away – even if it meant leaving parts of itself behind to do so. Suddenly, I heard Anna’s shouting emerge from my foggy, thought-filled mind. She had been shouting for a while and had begun to shake me. I explained my trance and she dragged me away as quickly as she could. “Rich asked us to go back to the pub tonight and stay when the patrons leave. He’ll have someone there who knows more about the…thing”.
As we descended the slippery stone steps toward our car, I thought more about the damage the…person (I still wasn’t too sure what to call it) had caused to the thick metal bars. It must have been incredibly strong, or determined, to make that sort of impact on metal. The tunnel itself was also intriguing me. Where did it leave and, more importantly, what did it hide for the creature to escape down there? As we passed the gift shop, I told Anna it would be best if we reported the damage to the staff, and they may be able to give us some information about what was beyond the gate. I told the young lady behind the till that we had seen some damage to a gate near the castle. “Oh, it must be those kids going up at night trying to get into the castle, bloody vandals!” said the woman, with a partial chuckle in her voice. I asked what could be so good to want to get down there. “Well,” the woman leaned towards me, “there are legends that say King Arthur’s ghost still resides within the castle and, on certain nights, you can hear him walking his halls as if it were all still standing, the castle I mean. Some of the locals are adamant of this, can’t say I believe such twaddle”. She snorted with derision before thanking me for reporting the damage.
I thought the reporting of the incident would make me feel better, but it didn’t. If anything, the thought of innocent kids, out for a little adventure, may have stumbled across and shambling monstrosity like I had the previous night was terrifying. I sat in the passenger seat of the car and let out a long sigh. Anna looked at me and rested her head on my shoulder. She didn’t know what to say. This situation was now beyond words. All we were both hoping was that tonight, this person Rich had got would shed some more light on everything.
We arrived at the Masons Arms around ten o’clock. I drove down and parked up just over the bridge as I didn’t plan on staying in the area longer than I needed to. We entered and it was a little busier than our last visit, being a Saturday night. We found a place to stand near the bar, ordered a couple of drinks and waited until closing time. Rich and I shared nervous glances throughout the evening as I scanned the room, trying to think which person could be his…expert on the subject, I suppose. There were a few solemn looking men and women around, keeping to themselves and slowing drinking, but soon most of them had filed out and, before the Rich called for last orders, the place was almost completely deserted. The last few stragglers finished their drinks and left, leaving just Anna, Rich and myself in the pub once again.
We sat at a table and waited for Rich to come over and explain what was going on. He approached and asked us how we were doing and if we noticed anything unusual while at Tintagel apart from the encounter we had. I told him about the local rumours and what the shop girl told us. He chortled a bit at the idea, but his face remained gaunt and tired. “Don will be here soon” he explained, “He knows the story. He and my dad taught me how to deal with the Forsaken”.
“Forsaken?” I repeated with a quizzical expression, “is that what they’re called? Forsaken?” A dozen more questions came to mind at this revelation, but before they could asked, there was a quiet rapping at the door. Anna and I stood up, startled by the sound in the relative silence. “Don’t worry, don’t worry! It’s just Don, he’ll explain everything” said Rich as he rushed to the door.
In walked a tall, thin man with a mane of blindingly white hair, only partially covered by a brown flat cap. He had a large beard, white with flecks of black, and wore a large navy blue overcoat. He looked over at us and nodded as he entered, smiling to try and ease our tattered nerves. “Sorry I’m late”, Don said as he approached us, hand outstretched, “I live outside of town and lost track of the time. I’m Don”. We greeted him, feeling slightly less stressed thanks to his soft Cornish accent and friendly demeanor. “Now, I know you had a start last night…Patrick, isn’t it?” Don said, pointing my way.
“Umm…yes, Patrick. Call me Pat” I replied, stuttering over my words.
“Wonderful…Right, Pat, I know you saw something…terrible last night around here. Can you explain what happened and I’ll try to answer any questions you may have” Don replied, putting his large calloused hand on my shoulder, giving it a firm squeeze.
I explained as much as I could remember from the previous night’s ordeal, with Rich chiming in when I overlooked or forgot something important. Don simply nodded and prompted me to continue until I was finished, seemingly making a mental note of every minute detail. When I had finished, Don smiled, let out a small sigh “That’s him…I have a lot to explain to you…
“You may have heard about a water pollution issue we had down in these parts in the eighties. To simplify, someone dumped a load of chemicals into the water accidentally and turned the water into sulfuric acid, effecting pipes and drainage all over the area. If it had that sort of effect on copper pipes, you can imagine what it did to people. The water got into a lot of homes, still impacting people today. It was big news back then, but you don’t really hear about it now. The real problems came with the clean-up.
“Before the water people came down and sorted it properly, a bunch of scientists came across from France, saying they could remove it quickly and silently, removing all traces it had ever been there.” Don shook his head and rubbed the bridge of his nose, like this was a difficult part of the tale to get through.
“What these scientists were bloody chancers! They were experimenting and hoping for the best. They made the issue worse. They put more chemicals into the water, god knows what, and it started turning people into what you saw last night. That used to be a person, until the chemicals got into his body”.
Don had clenched his fist tightly while speaking about the French scientists. He calmed himself, relaxed his hand. “It degraded their body and mind, making bones brittle and skin thin. Their jaws would seize up, their teeth would melt and fuse together, leaving them unable to open their mouths with only the holes in their now ruined teeth to feed and water themselves.”
Anna and I sat in astonishment at what we were hearing. Anna looked on the verge of tears. I grasped her hand tightly and we continued to listen.”The mental effects were terrible. The chemicals sent everyone who came into the contact with it insane, like the brain was attacking itself. They could no longer vocalise their pain and suffering, slowing turning from normal people into shambling husks, skin flaking off, bones shattered, groaning, scratching at their skulls to try and get to the brain. It’s truly terrible to see it happen to anyone, let alone friends…” Don wiped a tear from his eye, remembering those he has lost.
“After the symptoms started becoming local knowledge, the scientists left quickly and the water people cleaned the chemicals out properly, so the water is safe to drink now. But for those poor people who came into the contact with the second batch of chemicals, there was no respite for them anymore. Those scientists turned them into monsters!” Don slammed the tabled with his fist and looked down at his lap, trembling. He stayed silent for a moment before looking up and continuing. “Sorry…We call the people effected the Forsaken, as when it was reported to the local authorities, they shrugged it off and explained that it wasn’t possible. We tried to show them, but the Forsaken hid, ran away. No one would help…There’s only one left now, the one you saw last night. As soon as we find him, his suffering can end.”
After Don had ended, we sat in silence. There was so much to take in at this point. I thought about reporting it to the Police or to the Papers, but Don said they had tried both. Neither would pick up the story as it was seen as fiction. Anna asked how many there were originally. Don said around thirty people to their knowledge were found to become Forsaken. Other did have lesser symptoms, like their jaws locking or their skin thinning, but that was dealt with by medicine and the local hospitals. “All you have to remember is that, if you do run into the Forsaken again, call Rich. He knows how to help them and he will”, Don patted Rich on the arm and smiled meekly. Rich, still looking harrowed nodded dutifully. His eyes were red and he sniffed from crying during Don’s story.
Don said his goodbyes and Rich repeated his request of informing him if we see the Forsaken. I agreed and we left. We got back to our cabin around one o’clock. Anna and I said nothing to each other on the drive back, heads swimming with information and harrowing imagery. We walked through the door and Anna pounced at me, holding me close, burying her head in my chest. We hugged for a few minutes before heading to bed, both exhausted. I kept waking up through the night, thinking I could hear something in the distance. A shuffling or banging. Several times I checked out of the door to see if anything was out there, my paranoia hitting new highs. There was nothing but inky blackness outside, bar the few lights of occupied cabins and static caravans ahead. I tried to shrug off the noises and go to sleep.
The next few days passed with little incident. The next day we travelled to Padstow, looked in some shops and walked along the beach. The relatively normal day seemed to mellow us out and we almost felt the burden of insight life from us. That night, we decided to pick up some food and drinks to eat in the cabin. The bumps and scrapes outside persisted in daylight this time, so I looked outside to find, in the field adjacent to us, a small working farm and farmhouse. I thought it must have been that which was causing the noises at night – the wind catching loose tools or the owners wandering around. The farmhouse seemed in a little disrepair from years of use, with a few windows broken and the wooden exterior looking tattered in places.
The following morning, we traveled to Polzeath for the day. On the way down, we noticed several small farmhouses along the roadside, all looking small and unfit for human use. I made a joke about them being hobbit holes and we chuckled while we went down the road. Polszeath is a tiny and pretty place, so we pottered around for a few hours, soaking in what little sun poked out from behind the clouds. While walking along the beach, we saw Don in the distance. He smiled and waved, asking if we were OK. We filled him in on our activities and he smiled and laughed. He looked very tired and now sported a large scratch across his right cheek. “Oh, that?” he said when Anna asked how he got it, “This? It’s just a…I cut myself shaving! Don’t worry about it!” Soon after, he hurried away, leaving us confused. We went back to the cabin for the evening and packed out belongings for our journey home the next day.
We were just about to head off to bed, around eleven o’clock, when a dreadfully familiar sound came from outside – the moaning. My heart sank as I looked at Anna. She has closed her eyes, unable to open them. She soon covered her ears to block out the ever growing sounds from outside our cabin. I took a deep breath, and looked out of the window. There he was – the shambling Forsaken I had seen three days before. His arms wrapped around his head, obscuring his face, he walked with a heavy limp, as if he was hobbling on broken ankles. He made his way slowly towards us from the main entrance. Did he know that it was me who had seen him last? Was he following us? Before I could think anything else, the Forsaken stopped dead in its tracks, completely still.
Eventually, Anna joined me at the window and let out a short, sharp scream upon seeing the beast for the first time. With this sound, the groaning returned and the Forsaken darted into the nearby field towards the farmhouse. “Call Rich…Pat, Call Rich!” shouted Anna, who was now shaking with fear.
“OK, I will” I replied, getting out my phone, “Stay here”. Before she could respond, I bolted out of the door, phone to my ear and speaking to Rich.
“Rich, he’s here. Behind Juliots Well in the farmhouse. Come quickly, I think he’s there”
There was a long pause before Rich responded with a short, “OK” and he hung up the phone. I looked around the floor for anything I could use to protect myself with if something happened before he arrived. A large branch was lying behind the cabin, so I picked it up and stood at our door. If the Forsaken was violent, I would protect myself.
The moaning intensified from the nearby farmhouse. I told Anna that, when Rich arrived, direct him to there and I’d meet him outside. She nodded and I made my way towards the small house in the dark field. I had found a torch in my car and tentatively wandered across the pitted ground. The farmhouse looked sinister in the dark, not the quaint little house it appeared from the cabin by daylight. Most of the windows were smashed, the wooden panels were rotten and broken, leaving large holes in the external walls. The door was smashed, and that is where the moaning was coming from. I struggled to make a decision. The fear was overwhelming, but the idea of helping this poor man seemed to be the right thing to do. I stood, frozen at the door for what felt like an eternity. Eventually, branch and torch aloft, I entered the house. The interior was dilapidated and barren. My theory that it was a working farmhouse was proved completely wrong when entering, with no working electricity or pluming present throughout. I walked towards the noise which led me to a small utility room at the back of the farmhouse. The walls were covered in scratch marks, dark red from dried blood penetrating the shattered wood. The floor, too, was covered in dark red puddles, varying in size and viscosity. Then, in the right hand corner, huddled tightly as to hide, was the husk of the Forsaken.
I slowly approached it, keeping both my branch and torch as steady as possible. The moaning was now deafening, almost unbearable. The figure, from the side I could see, was equal parts putrid pink and bright red, like it was wearing a horrifying patchwork coat. It shivered at all times and twitched occasionally. The groaning started to decline and the Forsaken stopped moving entirely for a few seconds. At this moment, my heart was in my throat. What was it thinking? Was it thinking at all? Slowly, the man straightened himself on its skeletal legs, slightly unsteady and turned towards me. I was frozen on the spot, powerless to defend myself if it did lunge forward. Instead, it’s matchstick-thin arms dropped slowly from its head and took place by its side, palms outstretched in a begging gesture.
The poor creature had, for the first time, reveals it’s head. From the top of its head to just below its nose was aged yellow bone, the skull exposed with deep crevices dug into it by desperate fingernails. The creature could not see – it had no eyes and the eye sockets seemed to have been chipped and broken, as if the Forsaken has tried to get to his brain through retinal openings. It had no nose and what skin it did have left on its face was patchy, yellow and festering. The mouth was truly horrifying – the creature had no lips, showing the full effect of the chemicals on the teeth and jaw. I say teeth, they had become fused into one giant slap of enamel with small holes where the melted bone had chipped or broken. It was a truly vile sight, but I was no longer frightened. The creature suddenly fell to its knees and began sobbing, it’s head tilted upward towards me, like it was begging me for help. I was powerless to do anything still until I heard a crash from the front door followed by shouting.
Rich entered the room calling my name. The Forsaken didn’t move or even change position, head still focused on my position. Rich looked at the creature and froze much like I did. His eyes, yet again looked red and sore. He was holding the cricket bat from the pub in his left hand, trembling while he held it. He steadied himself, looked at me and said, voice quavering, “Right…Right, you may want to look away”. I knew what he was going to do. The creature had still not moved, face lit by my torch, like it was unable to sense what was about to occur. I tried, in vain, to plead with Rich to not do it, explaining the fact it just wanted help. The sobbing continued, now louder than before. “It’s the only way we can help them, Pat. Now, step aside…” Rich said somberly.
I stood my torch in the corner of the room, still lighting the Forsaken’s emaciated body, and walked to the doorway. Rich took my place, whispering “I’m sorry” under his breath with every step. I didn’t want to watch what would come next, but I also couldn’t tear my eyes away from the sobbing husk. Rich raised the cricket bat, breathed heavily, let out a scream and brought it down on the top of the Forsaken’s fragile head. The skull shattered like a snow globe, with fragments of skull and brain viscera covering the room, Rich and myself. The rest of the body flopped to the floor like a bag of old twigs, barely making a sound at impact. For a moment, I stood motionless, unable to believe what I had witnessed.
Technically, I had just seen Rich murder someone…or something. I wasn’t sure how to feel. I knew it was in pain and I knew there wasn’t a cure for what he had. Rich turned to me, looking pale and gaunt, but relieved. He passed me my torch and ushered me towards the exit. “Leave the rest to me…thank you” was the last thing I ever heard Rich say before I led myself back up towards the cabin. As I entered, Anna looked shocked. My clothes were covered in blood and brittle bone shards. I fell to the ground and sobbed, the full enormity of what I had witnessed finally hitting me.
The next morning we were woken by sirens. The farmhouse had burned down over night, leaving no evidence of the previous night’s actions. I felt numb, as if I had gotten away with a heinous crime with no ramification. There was a letter left under the windscreen wiper of my car. It was from Rich:
‘Thank you for helping me.
Thank you for helping him.
He’s finally at rest now,
The letter cleared my head and settled me slightly from the guilt I had felt upon seeing the burned down farmhouse. Anna and I got into our car and left Camelford. We have never been back.
It’s been three months since those events unfolded. I have come to terms with Rich’s actions and my own inaction that night in the farmhouse. I have attempted several times to tell local Police and news outlets about what had happened there many years ago. Not only did a lot of them already know about the stories, but none of them seemed to believe it. They seemed more interested about the arson on the farmhouse than the shambling men and women of Camelford.
The face of the Forsaken is etched into my mind, haunting my nightmares. Despite seeing it’s final moments in person, I often wonder if there are any others still out there, hidden from the local townsfolk in a remote area. I often wonder if the Forsaken I saw at the castle was the same one that I saw in Camelford. Anna tells me to try and forget about the events and move on with my life when I ask her about it.
I’ve been hearing it again – the moaning. The desperate, wavering howl of a tortured soul. It seemed far away at first, like a distant siren of agony, but it’s getting louder and closer. Tonight I heard it, louder and more visceral than ever before. I looked out of my bedroom window to see a hauntingly familiar sight – a thin, emaciated figure stood in my front garden, arms outstretched, hollering a guttural cry.
Credit: M.L Anderson
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