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The Endless Warp of Time

The endless warp of time

Estimated reading time — 29 minutes


In the picturesque countryside of Ceredigion, a historical county in the west of Wales, with its rugged cliffs delving into caves and hidden beaches, as well as rolling farmland hills that stretched for miles amid endless greenery, were two villages that young Elin had known for as long as she could remember. The village of Gwynfa, an unremarkable place, home to a post office, a pub, and a local shop, as well as a small community of aging youths who seemed to pass life faster than city dwellers, was her home. Growing up as a young teenager in this village wasn’t ideal; boredom reveled in her hormonal state. She often thought that there weren’t any attractive boys in her village, just spotted-faced teenagers who loitered around bus stops with hoods up, attempting to emulate gangster personas.

Bryncroes was a village a mere ten-minute walk away, much like Gwynfa. It, too, was of little importance, just a settlement that had sprung up to house local farmers two or three hundred years ago. The teenagers there were rivals to the boys in her village; again, the term ‘gangster wannabes’ crossed her mind. She didn’t mind the village; it was the home of her grandmother, residing on the edge of Bryncroes, in the first blue house on the left as you entered from the south. Elin often preferred Bryncroes; it at least had a park and was closer to the coastal path, a place she had frequently visited with her family during summer holidays.


“Elin, do me a favor. Can you pop over to Grandma’s house and give her these?” Elin rolled her eyes as her mother called up the stairs. She knew, with her mum, it wasn’t really Elin’s choice at all. It was never a question but more of a demand; she had learned long ago to just do as she was told. It was easier than arguing back. “Okay,” she called back, heaving herself off the bed and making her way down the wooden stairs, each step creaking under her socked feet. On the table sat a tin of shortbread biscuits, her grandmother’s favourite. Though she could never understand why—she had often thought of them as too dry and unappealing.

“Do I have to do it now?” Elin called out to her mother, but she did not answer. “Mum?” she yelled again, walking towards the back door to the garden to check if she was bringing the clothes in off the line. Her mother was nowhere to be seen. She looked at the clock on the mantelpiece and saw that it was already six o’clock. ‘I can quickly go over, drop them off, and be home in half an hour.’ She knew her grandmother was going to chat with her about her life—the usual questions about school and friends were always the chosen topics of conversation with her grandmother.

The sun was already setting; it wasn’t quite over the horizon but hovered over it like a helium balloon being held stationary. Long shadows of the neighbors were cast across the road. With the shortbread biscuits tucked under her arm, she opened the gate and looked up and down the road—an old habit from childhood to check for passing cars. Now it was just something her brain told her to do. The village was a ghost town in the middle of nowhere. The only sign of life was the parked cars outside the row of homes. The gate was the noisiest thing as the metal bounced against each other. Elin headed north, following the road out of the village. There were no pavements on the road, so she stayed on the far right to see oncoming traffic. An old memory haunted her when a car nearly knocked her over from behind, the hedges being too high on either side of the road to jump out of the way. This old memory made her hate walking this road, but the next bus wasn’t going to be for another hour; she could be back home before the bus even left Gwynfa.

She passed the mossy-splotched sign on the outskirts of the village, written with a friendly message in both English and Welsh:

Thank You For Visiting – Diolch Am Ymweld
Please Drive Carefully – Gyrrwch Yn Ofalus

The field on the immediate left was owned by Mr. Jenkins, a friend of Elin’s father. Mr. Jenkins often kept sheep in this field. It was an old habit of hers to always stand on the bottom bar of the metal grated gate and gaze at them, although they often ran off in the opposite direction, as if Elin was a threat. No matter how much she tried to convince them to come with a handful of grass or a friendly smile, they never did. The road seemed to stretch out before her before turning into a curve a little further up. The lush Welsh greenery looked fresh, being springtime; life seemed full and beautiful. An old oak tree stood on the edge of the road to the left—a tree that she always associated with being close to home after a long journey. ‘I wonder how long that has been standing there,’ Elin thought, looking up at the thick branches, watching three small brown birds fly from the thick leaves out into the sky before landing in the hedgerow next to her.


A small road sign was up ahead, standing on a thin, singular pole with her intended destination printed on it in black writing – Bryncroes. Though she had no need for the road sign, she knew she was heading in the right direction. Elin hastened her walking; she wanted to get this mundane and unnecessary task done as soon as possible. ‘Why such urgency to give Grandma these biscuits? We will probably see her in a few days anyway,’ Elin thought to herself, looking at the tartan design on the lid of a man playing a bagpipe on some random Scottish hill in the Highlands.

Elin was a little confused about one small aspect of her little journey. The walk, which only takes the average walker ten minutes between the two villages, had now lasted fifteen, according to her mobile phone. She thought that maybe she had been strolling along, slowing down a little when she got distracted flicking between songs on her Spotify account. Her attention only raced back when all of a sudden, the data on her phone stopped working, silencing the song halfway through some American rapper that was on random. Putting the phone back into her pocket, she raced forward with more speed, but a turning appeared that she had never walked before. Although she had walked this road countless times and knew the journey by heart, from every tree to every gate, this bend had caught her off guard. As she rounded the corner, Elin almost lost her breath at the sight she saw. It was her village, Gwynfa, but as if approaching it from the south side. Elin stopped dead in her tracks, looking back over her shoulder in utter confusion. The road didn’t do a full circle; in fact, she had never left the road she was on. “What the fu-?” She didn’t finish her sentence but slowly walked closer, back into the village of Gwynfa.

The village was still as silent as ever, no one tending to their gardens or walking their dogs on the road. She slowly walked through the village, looking at the houses and the cars. She had a face of utter confusion walking past her own home once again. “I don’t understand,” she said to herself, checking her phone. The time had even changed; it was six o’clock again. She knew she had already been walking, and it wasn’t all just some very convincing daydream. Her legs ached at the knees from the walk she had already done. She looked at the tin of shortbread, looked at her house, and looked at the road. She carried on with her journey, as if starting the level in a game again after dying. She hastened her walk back in the direction of Bryncroes.

Her mind was puzzled by the whole situation; she couldn’t work out how on earth that had happened. She walked slowly, contemplating everything but could come to no conclusion. She eyed the sheep in Mr. Jenkins’ field; they were all the same, grazing on the grass, eyeing Elin as she walked on by. This time she did not stop by the gate; she carried on walking forward, around the similar bends in the road that she knew so well. The old oak was coming up next that had stood in the same spot for more years than Elin had been alive, but something was strange. As she turned the corner, it wasn’t in the same spot; it had switched to the other side of the road. Elin could feel her face heat up as her eyes widened, and she could feel a cold feverish sweat roll down her face. Elin thought she said a word, but she did not. Just a pathetic mumbled sound came from her mouth as she stood frozen, staring at the tree. She examined the large roots that stuck out from the ground, the thick trunk with its little colony of black ants trailing up its side, the branches swaying as strong as ever in a gentle breeze.

Nothing made sense – ‘there is no way this is real, I must be dreaming,’ she concluded in her mind, slapping her face, trying to wake up from this odd dream. The slap stung. Not thinking you could feel pain in dreams made it harder to believe that this was reality. She paused for a moment and sat on the grass bank to survey her surroundings. The road was quiet, with surprisingly no cars; the sheep ‘baaaaaed’ in the surrounding fields as a small bumblebee buzzed towards the daisy near the oak tree. Elin looked down at the tin in her hands; she was still holding the shortbread biscuits. Sighing, there wasn’t much else she could do but to carry on. The thought of running home and locking herself in the bedroom for the rest of the day was enticing, but curiosity had already taken hold of her. “Right, let’s just get to Grandma’s house,” she said to herself, brushing any loose mud from her bum, stepping back onto the asphalt road. She marched on forward, focused on her destination.

The sign for Bryncroes was still standing in its place. She kept her eye on the road, making sure she did not trail back around to her village, though she already knew there is no other road to take you back that way. Elin checked the time on her phone; it was ten past six in the evening. She glared at the digits on her phone, trying her best to make sure it was real. She even said the numbers aloud to confirm it with her brain. “Six fifteen, six fifteen, six fifteen,” the time changed, “six sixteen, six sixteen, six sixteen.” She rounded another corner, which has always been there, but when she rounded it, she had arrived at the south of Gwynfa again. “What?” tears formed in her eyes, pushing her fingers at the top of her skull, pushing them through her thick hair. She darted her eyes back once again, “there’s no way this is happening!” she shouted to herself, not sure what to do. Elin started walking into the village once again, eyeing her house. Looking at the time on her phone, it read six o’clock once again.

She walked up her front steps to walk into her home, planning on making up some excuse to her mum later on the reason why she had not gone. As she went to try the door to her home, the handle wouldn’t budge more than a few centimeters; the door was locked. She looked through the window; it was dark inside, absent of any life. She knew her dad was at work in town and wouldn’t be back until around nine, but she didn’t have a clue where her mum had gone. She looked for her mum’s car on the road; it was gone. She looked at the tin of shortbread biscuits once again; there was nothing to do but to carry on. “This is just a dream,” she said to herself, convincing her brain that this isn’t scientifically possible and that she would soon wake up from this looping nightmare. “It’s only a dream.”


Elin pressed forward, leaving her eerily silent village once again. The unsettling familiarity of Gwynfa heightened with each step. As she glanced at the houses, she noticed that they had aged greatly in the short time she had seen them, looking unloved and forgotten, gardens started to look unkempt, and paint peeled off the brickwork and doors, their once vibrant colours fading into a somber palette of greys and browns. Passing Mr. Jenkins’ field, Elin glanced over the metal gate; there were no sheep grazing in the field. The grass looked like it hadn’t been grazed in a while, with dandelion flowers spread across the grass but void of its famous yellow petals. Instead, it was in the seed stage of white puffy balls that blew apart in the breeze. When she reached the corner of the old oak tree, it still stood on the wrong side of the road to what she was used to. The tree looked sick, its gnarled branches, once adorned with lush green leaves, now extended like skeletal fingers against the dimming sky. Elin shivered as a cool wind swept through, tingling the small hairs on her arms.

The tin of shortbread biscuits felt heavier in her hands, as if she were carrying a tin of rocks rather than the light but dry shortbread. She rattled the container, hearing the biscuits bounce against the tin inside. She didn’t open it, for the plastic seal remained along the rim of the lid. The Scotsman with his bagpipe was still on the cover of the tin, feeling like the only thing that hadn’t changed. With a hesitant breath, Elin continued on the path towards Bryncroes, hoping to escape the enigmatic loop that had now gripped her reality of the world.

Elin hadn’t noticed that the exit sign to the village wasn’t there upon leaving the village; it was now placed a little further down the road. As she approached the sign, the words ‘Thank You For Visiting’ seemed more like a melancholic plea than a friendly gesture. She stared at the mocking sign for a moment; anger built up in her as she picked up a small stone, throwing it as hard as she could at the sign. It bounced off with a ‘ting,’ the stone forever becoming lost on the edge of the road. The road sign for Bryncroes loomed ahead, and she steeled herself for what lay beyond.

Looking up upon the grassy field that was a small incline to her right, she had noticed something that she could swear to God she hadn’t seen before. On the hill, a dilapidated farmhouse stood like a spectral sentinel against the evening sky. It appeared older than many of the other houses around the area; the walls were made of wood rather than brick. The wood looked weathered, broken windows gaped like vacant eyes of a deceased being, the structure exuded an unsettling aura. The air turned colder, the once warm spring sun didn’t seem to touch her skin, the breeze that tickled her hairs was now a stronger wind. The once homely landscape seemed like something of a nightmare, getting worse with each progressive step, causing her mind to play a tug of war on what is reality. Elin’s resolve wavered, but the urge to escape from this loop urged her to go forward. She didn’t even know why she was still carrying on holding the tin of shortbread, now seeming unimportant, but it did seem like the only thing that felt real and unchanged. She turned a known corner once again, and the village of Gwynfa appeared once more.


Mr. Jenkins’ field had transformed from lush greenery to a despondent brown, covered in sludgy mud and dotted with dirty puddles. The once-vibrant hedgerows now displayed their thorny veins, resembling tangled vipers. This time, as Elin stood on the fence, the refreshing scent of grass had vanished, replaced by the pungent odor of sheep manure. While accustomed to the rural scents, this one was particularly strong, leaving an unpleasant taste lingering in her throat. She didn’t linger, quickly stepping down from the fence to avoid slipping in the sludge pooled at the gate. Gripping the metal pole, she broke her fall.

As she continued along the road, the weather gradually shifted. The blue spring sky was replaced by low-hanging clouds, and a sprinkle of drizzle teased her face, evolving into a cold rain. Elin cursed the clouds under her breath, using the tin as a futile cover to shield her hair from frizz. The rain intensified.

The village’s exit sign had vanished completely; in its usual spot now stood two concrete slabs that once supported the sign. Sharp grass covered the edges, each blade resembling a knife’s edge. Elin started feeling the strain in her feet from the constant walking, yet she pressed on, determined to break free from this inexplicable loop. Rounding the corner toward the old oak, she was shocked to see it no longer standing tall and majestic. It had fallen, sprawling across the road, its head in one of the fields. Elin stopped and assessed the situation; the trunk was too large and slippery for a quick climb over. Attempting to grapple the bark, she peeled it with her fingernails while trying to pull herself up. Her foot slipped on the wet trunk as she attempted to cop her leg over, causing her to slide back to the road. “What the actual hell,” she muttered, struggling to get back on her feet. It felt akin to navigating a challenging level in a video game, her attempts to leap over the trunk proving futile. The thickness of the fallen trunk displayed the age of the tree well, with each year adding another ring, slowly thickening over time.

A howl lingered in the air for too long; Elin jerked her head back so fast that she almost pulled a muscle in her neck. Fear froze her in place; the unfamiliar howl, a blend of a wolf and a bear, sounded far but uncomfortably close. She re-evaluated the situation, attempting once more to climb over the fallen oak. However, it proved obstinate, and her bum cheeks met the road again. Heading for the base of the tree, she found the roots uprooted like serpents escaping the ground. The gap between the roots and the thorny bush was narrow, and Elin knew it would be painful to pass through. Glancing back in the direction of the howl, she opted to endure the discomfort rather than retracing her steps. The tangling veins of the bush scratched against her back, clinging to her clothing and pricking her aching leg with thorns. Her long hair caught on unruly shrubs, yanking at her skull like a malevolent hand pulling her back. The hard oak roots brushed against her face and breast; she needed to push further into the thorny bush to get around. “Ahhhh, ughhh,” she exclaimed, pushing through bit by bit. The underpart of the oak still clung to the mud that had held it for centuries; little critters such as worms, woodlice, and millipedes scurried around just inches from her face. Although she had never been one for bugs, the idea of them touching her heightened her discomfort. Though likely her imagination, she could have sworn she could hear the little legs of the insects walking around.

With a sudden release, Elin was finally through. Wet eyes slowly formed as she couldn’t hold back her tears anymore; she just wanted to be home. Frustrated, she tossed the tin across the road, causing the metal lid to dent on impact. The shortbread biscuits rattled violently in the box, most likely broken. Tired and fed up, she sat on the grassy bank once again; she could feel the cold tickle of water seeping through her trousers onto her underwear. She sat in the drizzly silence for a moment, feeling the cool drizzle touching her face. The once-sunny road had turned into a fog. Her silent cry didn’t last for long; a grumbling sound could be heard on the other side of the tree, like a hungry wild animal, on the hunt for food. She could hear the nails tapping against the asphalt of the road. Elin didn’t make a sound as she listened carefully to what was on the other side of the trunk.


Elin remained seated, her back against the oak, feeling as though time itself had come to a standstill. The heavy breathing of the creature on the other side of the tree filled the air. While curiosity urged her to catch a glimpse of it, the rational side of Elin fought back, reminding her of the potential danger.

In the eerie silence, she controlled her breathing, attempting to keep it low. Fear caused her leg to shake involuntarily as her ears perked up to every rustle and sound. The grumbling grumble of the creature gradually moved toward the base of the tree, its sniffs audible as it traced the ground. Elin found herself cornered, contemplating the idea of sprinting away from the tree, but the realization hit her that she couldn’t outrun whatever lurked on the other side. Staying put wasn’t an option either; it was only a matter of time before the creature circled around. Thoughts raced through her mind as she weighed her options.

Then, as if a providential intervention, a loud squeak echoed from the field on the left. The stalking creature responded with a snappy roar, effortlessly leaping onto the trunk. Chips of bark fell onto Elin’s face as she kept her eyes pinned on the upper part of the tree, desperately hoping not to be seen. The creature ran, vaulting over the hedge into the field, followed by a desperate squeal of the prey it had caught. Elin covered her ears, unable to bear the sounds of animals being devoured. She recalled nightmares of her cat, Tom, capturing a sparrow in the garden—a memory that haunted her to this day. It was difficult to reconcile the image of her domestic cat with the reality that cats were, in essence, wild animals.

Wiping away tears, Elin placed the tin on the road. Fatigued and frustrated, she sat on the grassy bank again, feeling the cold seeping through her trousers. She sat in the drizzly silence for a moment, letting the cool drizzle touch her face. The once-sunny road had transformed into a fog, and a grumbling sound on the other side of the tree caught her attention, like a hungry wild animal searching for food. The nails tapped against the asphalt, and Elin listened carefully to discern what lay beyond the trunk.

Elin stared at the road ahead, the fog growing thicker. Dark silhouettes of trees guided her way. The urgency to escape battled with the eerie allure of the farmhouse. Despite her hesitation, curiosity triumphed, and she approached the decaying structure. It felt strange leaving the road, but she reasoned it might break the loop that had ensnared her.

In this new, unfamiliar world, something crucial was missing—people. As she entered the farmhouse, the broken door creaked, and the floorboards groaned. An irregular light persisted, guiding her up the staircase. At the bottom of the stairs, the living room revealed remnants of another era—a television set from the 1940s and old photo frames depicting an elderly couple and an unusually large pig.

Each step echoed through the desolate house as Elin climbed the staircase. The upstairs room held an unsettling stillness. A spectral glow danced in the window, emanating from an old lamp that seemed out of place. It didn’t match the age of the house, likely from the ’80s or ’90s. Elin picked up the dying lamp, contemplating its origin. As the glow faded away, leaving her in the dim, darkening room, she couldn’t help but wonder, “Whose lamp was this?”


Exploring the aged farmhouse where the furniture seemed to reflect various decades, Elin observed no signs of recent inhabitants. However, the inexplicable presence of a lit lamp caught her attention. Glancing at her phone to check the time, she discovered that time seemed to have scarcely moved. As she delved deeper into this mysterious loop, time appeared to slow down. Although it was only 6:10, it felt as if she had left her strange version of the village around thirty minutes ago.

Dust danced around her as she traversed every room, hoping the house would reveal answers about her predicament. Yet, she found nothing. Standing at the front door, Elin attempted to unlock it. However, as she placed her hand on the cold, metal door handle, a tingling sensation rolled down her neck and spine, raising the hairs on her skin. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” a whisper cautioned behind her. Startled, she turned around to find no one in sight. Her eyes darted around the house’s nooks and crannies, but she saw no one. Then, the grumbling growls of a beast outside the door caught her attention.

Frozen in fear, Elin heard the creature sniffing and snarling at the door. A voice whispered, “Quick, over here.” Without hesitation, she followed the stranger’s voice, unsure of the potential danger. The voice led her to a door next to the stairs, revealing a narrow basement. Though the darkness seemed foreboding, Elin reluctantly descended, guided by the voice.

Feeling a presence in the dark, Elin struggled to see. She hoped her mind was playing tricks on her, attempting to dismiss the eerie feeling. As the creature prowled above, dust from the ceiling fell on her face. Trying to flick it away, she blinked continuously. “Stay quiet; it will find you,” the voice urged in a forced whisper. Elin closed her eyes and immersed herself in happy memories, desperately pretending to be elsewhere. The creature’s sniffing at the basement door heightened her anxiety, and she pressed herself into a corner as scratching intensified.

Seconds felt like minutes as the door seemed on the verge of breaking open. Suddenly, rushing human footsteps passed her, followed by the whimpering of a hound and a commotion upstairs. The cacophony suggested a whole family residing there. Gunshots rang out, reminiscent of old rifles farmers used. Elin waited in the dark for what felt like ten minutes, though only two had passed on her phone. The door creaked open, revealing scratch marks and a pool of blood. With the front door wide open, she chose the back door, which was unlocked.

Outside, Elin saw unfamiliar fields and a small forest. Ignoring the open road, she opted for the the trees. After reaching the treeline, she knelt behind a large rock, overwhelmed with cold, tiredness, and joint pain. When she finally mustered the courage to look back, the old house remained silent, as if nothing had happened. Glancing at the forest, Elin contemplated her bizarre experience. Thoughts raced through her mind as she sat on a mound of grass, pondering the events in the house and her unfamiliar surroundings. Questions lingered: “Did I relive a moment in the past?” “Why have I never seen that house before?” “What is this world I am in?”

Despite her lack of scientific expertise, Elin considered the possibility of being trapped in a time loop or a distorted reality. She recalled cases from the Discovery Channel about people experiencing time slips, including a woman transported to Roman Britain and a senior commander witnessing a time-slip over a disused air force base in Scotland.

“Am I experiencing a time slip?” Elin wondered aloud, brushing her hands through her hair. With no other plausible explanation, she tentatively embraced the idea that she was trapped in what felt like Victorian Britain.


Elin brushed the mud from her bottom as she stood up once again, knowing nothing would be achieved if she simply sat there. She surveyed the once-thriving forest behind her, observing old tree stumps scattered along the edge where a clear axe had carved its way through the trunks. Elin traced her fingers along the rough bark, feeling an unexplainable sadness for the lost beauty that had once adorned this small hill. She could imagine how, in her time, local teenagers might have used it as a secluded spot for drinking, away from the prying eyes of the village neighbourhood watch (old ladies peering from behind curtains). The idea of a forest atop the hill would have been enchanting. If she ever made it back to her time, she knew she would never look at this hill the same way again.

Time seemed to slip away in this place, the sun casting long shadows that danced between the skeletal trees. Elin’s footsteps echoed in the emptiness as she found herself questioning the very fabric of reality. The forest, a fragment of her former world, hinted at the magnitude of the enigma she was entangled in. Glimpses of the farmhouse returned to her mind, and Elin stopped to wonder who the owner of that whispering voice might be. While grateful for the person who saved her life, the nagging question of whom to thank played with her mind.
She stood and gazed out at the countryside before her. Not much had changed, though the familiar sounds and features of the modern era had disappeared. She hadn’t seen a single car pass on the road below, the rumble of tractor engines was nowhere to be heard, and the lack of an actual human figure brought the unsettling notion that this world she walked through was void of humans—only their voices seemed to bounce along the sound waves.

“Nothing makes sense,” Elin muttered to herself.

She decided to follow the field along its edges, contemplating a new idea. Instead of adhering to the road through this seemingly endless loop, she considered going off course, hoping it might break the loop and return her to her time. She spotted a small farmhouse that she recognized from her world and headed towards it. Upon closer inspection, no sounds resonated from inside, though signs of people living there were apparent. She moved towards the front gate and onto what was known as the ‘Upper Road.’ She continued her walk towards Bryncroes. The road didn’t lead there directly, requiring her to navigate through multiple fields as the Upper Road redirected eastwards away from the village. Nevertheless, she needed to give this a shot. ‘What else do I have to lose?’ she asked herself in her mind. The road was made of dirt, and loose stones kicked away from her shoes as she pressed on. Nothing noteworthy happened for a long while. After a brief walk, she could see the village of Bryncroes from the top of the hill. Tears of joy welled in her eyes as she stood there, finally gazing down at the village below her.


Bryncroes displayed some unfamiliar features, diverging from what she knew. The new housing estate on the southern side of the village had transformed from a farm field, and the entire village seemed notably smaller than usual. The church still occupied the eastern side, as did the houses at the center of the village. She could discern the edge of her grandmother’s home, situated on the fringes of what was now ‘Tailgate Estate.’ This estate, however, didn’t exist in this reality—a project of affordable housing for people on income support who couldn’t afford the cost of living. Elin entertained the idea that, although her grandmother might not be alive or born yet, the mere fact that she could see Bryncroes meant that the cycle was broken.

She raced through the empty fields, navigating sloppy mud and almost slipping down one of the slopes as she headed towards the trees. A brief dash through the thin treeline brought her to what she knew as ‘Tailgate Estate,’ now a boggy field. Her grandmother’s back door lay in full view, and she ran until she reached it. As she reached for the handle, a sudden rush passed through her body—a dizzy spell as intense as when she had taken that pill from one of the boys in the village. A throbbing headache, the worst she had ever experienced, engulfed her. The world around her began to break down, and before she could scream, her body was rushed back through whizzing lines of light.


She hit her bedroom floor hard, almost toppling over the books on her shelf. She was back in her room, in modern times.

“Ahhhh, what the actual fuck!” she screamed, cradling her head while rolling around on the floor, her legs curled up in the fetal position. After a few moments passed, she opened her eyes to look around the room. Everything was back to normal—her television, PlayStation 4, collection of books, and neatly folded pile of clothes on the chair indicating her mother’s request to put them away. She pushed herself up and looked out the window; it was a bright day, just before six according to her phone.

The notion that she had fallen asleep and had a terrible dream played on her mind. The abrupt awakening caused by falling off the bed seemed to be the reason for the dream to end. However, it felt too real; she remembered it as if it had just happened, not as a dream but as a memory, every detail etched onto her brain.

“Elin, do me a favor. Can you pop over to Grandma’s house and give her these?” her mum shouted again.

Elin froze in a cold sweat, unable to believe what was happening—it was the beginning of what had occurred just moments before. She didn’t call back; she remained silent. “Elin?!” her mum called again. Elin still didn’t reply; she didn’t want to take the Shortbread biscuit tin to her grandmother’s house. Suddenly, she could hear her mother’s footsteps coming up the stairs. Thinking quickly, Elin dived onto her bed, pretending to have taken an afternoon nap. Her mum knocked on the door. “Elin?” her mum said, twisting the handle of the bedroom. Elin closed her eyes, plunging her world into darkness. She could feel her mum walk over and gently place her fingers across her skin. Her fingers felt icy cold and rough.


“Elin, sweetie?” her mum said, causing Elin to squirm; her mother never used endearments like “sweetie.” Although it sounded like her mum, it didn’t feel like her—it felt strange.

After a few seconds, she heard her mother leave the room, gently closing the door behind her. Elin lay there for a moment longer before finally opening her eyes.

The house was silent again; she looked out her bedroom window to the back and couldn’t see her mum. Heading for the door, Elin gently turned the handle and edged her way down the stairs. She could see the tin of Shortbread Biscuits with a little yellow sticky note sitting on it.

“Please take to Grandma’s when you wake.”

Elin crumpled up the little sticky note in her hand before throwing it into the bin. She looked at the lid, the same man blowing his bagpipe in the Scottish Highlands. Rattling the tin, she could hear the usual sound of the biscuits bouncing around inside. Elin hesitated for a moment, contemplating whether it was worth waiting for her mum to come home or risking it and going over out of sheer curiosity. She stared at the tin for a long while.

“I will wait until six-thirty,” she said to herself. This way, if what she experienced was true, she would have broken the cycle. ‘I sound bloody crazy,’ she thought to herself as she poured herself a glass of water from the tap, waiting for time to slowly pass. When six-thirty finally came, she picked up the tin and headed for the front door. Looking up and down the village street, nothing was out of place; all seemed its normal, boring self. She followed the road towards Bryncroes, passing Mr. Jenkins’s farms, the sheep sprawled across the field and running away from Elin upon approaching. The sign thanking visitors for visiting the village was there, standing in its normal state, though a black crow stood on it and cawed in Elin’s direction before flying upwards towards one of the small trees. The oak stood high and on the correct side of the road to what she had always known.

“I think I have done it; I have broken the cycle,” she said to herself, almost smiling.

Elin continued to contemplate whether what she had experienced was real. As she passed down the road, she couldn’t get the thoughts out of her head; she looked up at the hill towards where the old farmhouse was—nothing was there, just a field. The same went for the forest at the back of the farmhouse; that too was always a field.

“Maybe there was a farmhouse there all those years ago,” Elin’s friend Simon, a major history geek back at school, would probably know something about it. She made a mental note to ask him the next time they returned to school. Bryncroes was a mere three minutes away when she finally reached the bend that changed everything. The last time she was at the bend, it seemed to keep turning for what felt like forever, bringing her back to her village, Gwynfa. She slowly walked it, bit by bit, though as soon as the bend came to an end, it swayed left, following its normal curve. After holding her breath, Elin released a breath of relief and carried on with her journey.


Only two minutes away from Bryncroes, a modern car approached Elin’s direction. Elin stepped onto the grassy bank to give the car plenty of room on this narrow country road, but the car didn’t seem to move. As soon as it saw her, it slammed on its brakes as if the driver was in immediate danger of knocking her over, though she was still some distance away from the car. She stood there for a moment, watching the car. It still did not move. She slowly made her way forward, and the car did the same. Elin stopped; the car stopped.

“What are you doing?” Elin muttered.

Elin pressed forward cautiously, and the car did the same. When the car got closer, Elin could see the two people inside—an elderly man and woman, both sitting in a stiff mannequin style, their faces emotionless, their eyes soulless. As she stopped to take a better look, both of their mouths dropped wide open, as if their jaws had unhinged. Elin ran in shock without taking a second thought. “This is not real, this is not real!” she screamed, running with all her might.

After a slight incline up the road, the village road sign came into view:

Welcome to Bryncroes. Croeso Bryncroes

She noticed that the car had managed to turn around and was now heading towards her. It felt like something was trying to stop her from reaching Bryncroes, but she couldn’t work out what. She could hear the rev of the engine as the car got closer and closer. Quick glances over her shoulder concluded her suspicion. Upon reaching the edge of the buildings, Elin jumped over a garden wall. The car, at full force, slammed into the wall, causing the bricks to scatter across the front garden. The scrunching of metal and the shattering of the windscreen violated her ears as she watched the elderly woman fly out of the car, smashing into the road, her back and neck snapped in multiple places, her eyes looking back at her, dead. She quickly looked over to the elderly man in the driving seat; his head was dripping with blood as it lay against the steering wheel, having hit his head with some force.
Elin jumped back up to her feet and ran. She didn’t know what was fuelling her to run; it could have just been pure adrenaline, or it could have been the fear of dying. Whatever it was, she didn’t waste it. She knew her grandmother’s home was only a minute away from where she was if she ran.

The village of Bryncroes was empty; she saw nobody. This wasn’t an unusual thing in the small, rural Welsh villages, but the idea that the only people she had seen in a while were the two that had tried to ram her with the car and were now dead on the side of the road. She could see her grandmother’s house—the red door that she had normally thought to be quite ugly compared to the rest of the house was now a welcoming beacon of normality. Elin gripped hold of the tin; its dented edges from landing on it during the fall didn’t matter to her. She was even sure that they were most definitely all broken inside; she didn’t care. Why should she care about a few broken biscuits after everything she had been through?

“Grandma!” Elin screamed, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to hear her as the woman had gone deaf a few years ago and often forgot to turn on her hearing aid. Reaching the door, she knocked frantically, as an old habit. She knew that the door was locked; her grandmother always locked the door, thinking that was the best way to keep out burglars, though the family often joked that they would put her stuff back rather than steal it. After what felt like ages, a figure of an elderly woman appeared in the glossy window of the door. It was the outline of her grandmother, in her favourite pink knitted cardigan that was gifted to her by Elin’s grandfather, who had now sadly passed away two years ago.

“Grandma!” Elin screamed, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to hear her as the woman had gone deaf a few years ago and often forgot to turn on her hearing aid. Reaching the door, she knocked frantically, as an old habit. She knew that the door was locked; her grandmother always locked the door, thinking that was the best way to keep out burglars, though the family often joked that they would put her stuff back rather than steal it. After what felt like ages, a figure of an elderly woman appeared in the glossy window of the door. It was the outline of her grandmother, in her favourite pink knitted cardigan that was gifted to her by Elin’s grandfather, who had now sadly passed away two years ago.

“Who is it?” Elin’s grandmother called out.

“It’s me, grandma, Elin!” Elin called back with a smile, wiping the tear from her right eye.

The door was unlocked by the simple turn of the inside key.

“Hello dear,” her grandmother said, bringing her in for a hug. Elin could smell her grandmother’s fragrance; it was her usual flowery smell from a perfume she wouldn’t dare use for the fear of being called old-fashioned. The usual smells of an old person’s home lingered in the air. Elin felt the pleasure wash over her being in what felt like normal surroundings. Sitting down in the living room in her usual spot on the long sofa near the TV, her grandmother sat in her favourite armchair, the kind that reclines.

“What are you doing here?”

“Mum told me to bring these over to you,” Elin answered, passing over the tin. Trying to forget about the two dead elderly people on the edge of the village, in her mind they were not real. She had settled with that idea, a mere fragment of her imagination.

“Oh, thank you,” she said with a smile, joy spreading across her face as she brushed her fingers over the picture of the man blowing on the bagpipes.

“Hello, you handsome devil,” she laughed, always fancying the man on the shortbread tin.

Elin wanted to go home but was now too afraid to step back outside. In here, she felt safe. Her mum could come and pick her up whenever she came back from wherever she went to.

“Would you like a cup of tea, dear?” the grandmother asked, heaving herself out of her armchair.

“Let me do it,” Elin said back, but her grandmother refused. She often told people that if she stopped, she would drop dead, so she kept active when she could.

“You sit there dear, put your feet up. Two sugars, right?” Her grandmother said as she hobbled over towards the kitchen.




Elin surveyed the antiquated furnishings that adorned the room – her grandfather’s portrait rested in his armchair on the windowsill, while images of her cousins, uncles, aunties, and herself with her parents adorned the walls. Reflecting on her baby pictures, Elin couldn’t fathom the adorable chubby-cheeked infant with a pot belly and stumpy legs was really her. In the kitchen, the sound of a teaspoon tinkled as her grandmother finished preparing the tea.

Creating space on the coffee table by relocating magazines like TV Times and Knitting Weekly, typical in elderly homes, Elin awaited her grandmother. On the cover of TV Times, two actors smiled from a soap ad, a program her grandmother faithfully watched three or four nights a week.

“Here you go, sweety,” her grandmother said, gently placing the tray on the coffee table. Elin observed her grandmother’s changed appearance – once-permed curls now matted strands of white hair and balding patches.

“Did she do something to her hair in the kitchen?” Elin wondered but chose to remain silent. They chatted about life, diverting Elin’s thoughts momentarily from the recent terrifying events.

“I just need to go to the toilet, grandma.” Elin headed to the bathroom, noticing the cleanliness and a strong scent of bleach. After a quick wash, she stared at herself in the mirror, recalling pranks played on her family by manipulating the mirror by turning it around to a more close up mirror. Her reflection brought a smile as she reminisced about her grandmother teasingly calling herself an “ugly bugger.”

Returning to the living room, Elin’s grandmother was still seated. Elin opted for the sofa, adjusting a cushion for comfort.

“Would you like one of the biscuits, my dear? You’ll have to help me with the plastic strap around the lid,” her grandmother innocently suggested.

Elin nearly spilled her tea, glancing into her grandmother’s mouth, revealing teeth as bulges of rotten blackness. Though expecting fake teeth, Elin found none, realizing some were missing. Elin said nothing. Elin’s grandmother went to the kitchen with the tin of biscuits to put them onto one of her small tea plates. “Something’s not right,” she whispered to herself. When her grandmother returned, Elin felt a sense of unease about the changes in her appearance.

“Grandma, I need to head off soon; I don’t want my mum to worry,” Elin said, attempting to leave without hurting her feelings.

“Why would she worry? It’s not even that late. I know you stay out past ten sometimes.”

Elin, silent, was surprised by her grandmother’s knowledge. “Anyway, I should be going; it’s dangerous to walk on that road in the dark.” As her grandmother went back to the kitchen, she remained silent. Elin finished the tea by necking the remaining contents of the mug . In the kitchen, Elin saw her grandmother not in her plump state but as a frail woman. Her eyes, once beautiful blue, were turning a glassy grey. Returning to the living room, her grandmother’s skin rapidly decayed into a skeleton, leaving Elin horrified.

Screaming, Elin dropped the mug , fleeing towards the village of Gwynfa. Passing the crash scene, the car remained damaged, but the elderly couple was gone. Elin ran, the road seeming endless. The farmhouse, now ablaze, revealed the hanging bodies of the family. Reaching the old oak, there were now two, one on the verge of falling. Elin ran faster as the tree crashed. At the village welcome sign, the beast from earlier, a large black dog creature, appeared, barking violently. Elin, frozen with fear, threw stones at it. The beast leapt, clenching its jaws on Elin’s face, and everything went black.


Elin awoke in her bedroom once again, greeted by the early hours of the morning. The night still shrouded Wales in darkness, stars embellishing the sky. Curious about her parents, she peeked into their room, finding them sound asleep, her father snoring heavily from his previous long shift. Closing their door, Elin descended the stairs for a glass of water, surprised by the early hour.

Her gaze fixed on the table, where the Shortbread biscuits tin had been in her dream. Walking over to the bin, she discovered the same yellow sticky note she had crumpled and discarded.

‘The one in my dream?’ she questioned, her grip on reality wavering.

The telephone rang suddenly, startling Elin, causing her to drop the glass, which shattered on the floor. Cursing, she wondered who would call at such an early hour. Her father, picking up the phone, relayed that it wasn’t a work call but an emergency caretaker for her grandmother. As Elin cleaned up the broken glass, her father solemnly shared the news.

“Elin, I have something to tell you; please take a seat,” he gestured to a chair. Elin complied.
“How can I say this -” he held his hand on the back of his head.
“Grandma has died; that was the emergency call. She apparently pulled it before collapsing.”

Elin’s eyes welled up with tears. “How was she yesterday? I heard you dropped off the biscuits to her.”

In shock, Elin stammered, “Sh-She was f-f-fine,” her mind grappling with the confusion between reality and her surreal experiences. Tears streamed down her face as her father comforted her.

Later that day, the world felt surreal. Elin, sitting in the front garden, observed a lone crow circling her house. The village road appeared deserted, except for a hooded teenage boy kicking a can. The clouds looked fluffy, and the tranquility contrasted with the bizarre events of the previous day, especially the macabre decomposition of her grandmother.

“Elin, can you pop up to the shop for me and get some milk? I think it has gone off,” her mum called from inside, shuddering as she looked through the window.

Elin cautiously accepted the money and headed towards the gate. Instead of turning right towards Bryncroes, she turned left towards the village. As she approached Spar, the local convenience store, she walked slowly, scrutinizing her surroundings for any anomalies.

Buying milk and treating herself to a Twix, she left the store, attempting to open the wrapper with her teeth. Suddenly, the revving of a car engine behind her caught her attention. Turning around, she saw the same car from the previous day or dream heading straight for her. Before she could react, her body was flung over the car’s roof and crashed onto the road. The elderly couple, more human and aware this time, emerged from the car.

Are you okay? Oh god, look at her!” the elderly woman cried.
“She’s dead, she’s dead,” the man hollered.
“Quickly Bernard, call an ambulance.”

In the fading light, Elin realized that her experiences were a distorted blend of past and future. She had witnessed the old farmhouse, a wild dog, the death of her grandmother, and now, her own demise. Time on this road seemed to distort reality, and Elin feared becoming its next victim. Life seemed to be a struggle to hold on to, her soul will be left as a memory on this road.

Credit: Marcus Woolley


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