The Monster of the Moors.
This was supposed to be a project for a magazine but it failed to achieve what I wanted so I’m sharing this in it’s unfinished state.
On he ran, non stop running, earlier in the day he had run through the town killing soldiers who were attacking the town, but he was a wanted man and ran out of the town on a heading to a place he didn’t know.
He was covered in blood, but he couldn’t stop, villages and fields passed by in a blur, but on he ran. The night was drawing in now and even with the full moon above his strength was flagging. As he crested a hill tiredness overtook him and he tripped on a stone and crashed to the ground. He now realised how tired he now was and unable to draw even the smallest ounce of energy to move, he fell asleep, his face against the ground.
* * *
He woke up feeling cold with the early morning sun in his eyes. “Was that just a dream or did that really happen?” he thought to himself as he lifted his weary body into a sitting position, he put his arms through the sleeves and grabbing the edges of his wool travel robe, he pulled it tight around him. He looked at his hands and realised that they were human, how long has it been since he had seen them looking like this escaped in fractured memory, but now he knew why he was cold. He pulled the travel bag close to him and removing the rifle strapped to the top, checked it over with unknown expertise, placed it on the ground before opening the bag, pulled out the lightweight cotton robe that lay folded inside. He steeled him self from the cold and shed the woollen cloak and quickly pulled the cotton cloak on before pulling the woollen one back on. He looked around the ground and found a sword on the ground, he felt a pang of anger and grabbed the sword and strapped it around his waist under the woollen robe. As he reached down to grab his bad and rifle he noticed how badly scared his wrists were and the memory of the dark place where he had been kept in chains came back to him. He closed his eyes and forced the memory away before opening them to see where he was. He stood on top of a hill where very little grew apart from a low layer of broken and wild grass. He could see a few trees scattered around, but they were few and far between. As he looked around, he caught the scent of cooking and looked around. Of in the distance he caught sight of smoke and set off in that direction.
The sun had risen and warmed the air quickly, but he found it hard on his eyes so pulled up his robe hood as he entered the village. It didn’t take him long to find the village inn and taking a look around the village, opened the door and walked it.
“How can I help you fri…” someone started and must have looked around half way through his practiced speech to find him standing there.
“Ale and food!” he called out then made his way over to the bar and sat down on one of the many empty stools.
“Kitchen hasn’t started yet.”
“Have you got anything cold?”
The barman brought over a glass of ale and set it down in from of him. He pulled back his hood revealing his face and grabbing the mug, took a deep drink. “Have you got and meat and bread?” he asked the barman.
The Barman looked as if he had seen the dead risen, “you got any money to pay stranger?”
The stranger looked into the mirror behind the bar and realised how thin and frail he looked. How long has it been since he had seen this face, he couldn’t remember, but the scar down the side of his face stood out proud. He reached into his purse and pulled out a few coins planning them on the bar top, “How much?”
“That will be more than enough!” the barman said before disappearing into the kitchen.
“Do you Hunt, didn’t know members of the church used rifles” One of the other two men sat around the bar asked.
The stranger let out a short bark of a laugh, “I’m not a member of any church or monastery!”
“Yet you carry an expensive looking rifle?”
The stranger put a hand down on the rifle feeling some comfort. “I have lost a lot and this is all I have left.”
“Be a shame if someone took it from you then?”
The stranger scowled, “That won’t be happening.”
The bar man came out and placed a plate of bread, meat and cheese in front of me then shopping up the change walked over to the till.
“Change please barkeep!” the stranger said holding out a thin hand.
The barkeeper groaned and placed some of the coins back on the table. The door to the bar opened and the stranger heard a crowed walk in. “Have you heard of the killing in the villages between here and Bridgwater, They say an army of unknown soldiers has been spreading across the countryside.”
“What’s so interesting about that?” The barman shouted at the crowds leader.
“They also say that a monster has been appearing in the villages as well but killing off the soldiers and leaving the villagers un harmed.”
There was a brief silence that the stranger assumed meant that the group had spied him at the bar. The stranger pulled up his hood covering his face again and emptied the mug of ale and bang it on the bar top, “another please!” he asked and went back to eating.
“Don’t like people to see your face stranger?”
“I like my privacy!” the stranger replied finishing off his meal. The bar keeper brought the last drink over and the stranger drank it then stood up leaving the coins on the bar top. As the stranger turned away from the bar hoisting the bag onto his shoulder, he heard the barkeeper scoop up the coins. He headed across the common room and walked out the door.
Taking a look the small mini village with its timber framed cottages and stream running through the middle from the water mill, the stranger took a deep breath then headed back along the road he had entered the village from and headed back up to the hills. After a few miles he felt a presence behind him and stopped, “Why did you follow me from the village?” he said not turning around.
“That rifle is too good for you, give it to me along with all your money and valuables and I will let you live!”
“That will not be happening any time soon!” the stranger responded.
A blow to the back of the strangers head caused him to stumble forward a few steps, his eyesight blurred, but the damage was already rapidly healing. “You should walk away from me no if you want to live!”
“Were not leaving until we get what we came for stranger!’
The stranger could see red ringing the outside of his vision and could feel the heat of anger growing inside him. “I tried to warn you, if you wish to leave here with your life, leave me now!”
“Gimme your stuff!”
The stranger lowered his bag to the floor and removed the woollen cloak and sword hanging around his waist placing them on the bag. His vision continued to turn red and his turned to look his attacker in the eyes. There were wide with fear and he could see the failure person reflected in their terrified eye.
When he finally came back to his senses, the stranger was surrounded by the body’s of his would be attackers, but he was back in the body he had known for the last few months. There werewolf bent down, picked up the robe and pulled it back on, picked up the sword, refastened it around his waist and then grabbed his bag and set off over the hills.
* * *
He sat there shaking, the only member of the gang to still be alive, the only one to not have approached the stranger. He sat there his drink remain untouched, but getting spilled from the tremors in his hands. The door banged open and a group of soldiers entered causing the survivor to throw his drink over the bar.
“Where looking of this man!” One of the soldiers announced holding open a picture of a man.
“Who is he?” the bar keeper asked.
“This man is also know to travel in a robe, his name is James Purcell and he is wanted for the single handed killing of hundreds of soldiers!”