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Author Topic: The Haunting - A One Vision
Faraway Lad
Senator of the UP. Permanent Ambassador to the Court of Saint James

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The Haunting Of Sheepscar Fell
A Ghost story for Christmas

Earth 25 years ago
1st December.

Mirenna Helen pressed enter on the view screen and with a self-satisfied smile pushed her chair back and stood up.

“There, it’s all booked” she said to herself. It had taken her quite a few days but she had finally found what she was looking for. She moved over to the window of her office, her brand new office as a newly promoted Minister in the UP Diplomatic Corps. Looking down on King Charles Street she saw the large crowds stretching back up the street towards Whitehall. Lots and Lot of Tourists all drawn to the old buildings preserved in this part of the city. Looking up she noticed the tall skyscrapers overshadowing the heritage quarter as Whitehall was now called, busy with traffic. It was crowded, and noisy and the old buildings were used as part of the UP diplomatic service estate as they had been for almost 1,000 years.

“Too many people” she thought. “I am so glad we are getting away from this”

She looked at the screen and mentally ticked off the list.

“Out of the way” she thought “tick”
“Lots of walking in the country, tick.”
“Isolated pub with roaring open log fires, tick”
“Good plain food, idea after a day’s hiking, tick”
“Beer rated as excellent, tick”

But to her the best thing was that as far as she could find out, nothing of importance had happened there in 100 years. They would have nothing to do, and could celebrate Christmas alone, take some time to get to know one another again.

Walking back to her desk she thumbed open a comms link.

“First Secretary Coulthard” she said as she heard his voice answer, “Its booked. We have reservations at the Blue Bell Inn in a small town called Sheepscar Fell on Charltons Reach.

Mirenna laughed as Darden said “Charltons Reach where in the blue blazes is that?” she didn’t often manage to surprise him, “look it up lover” she said “it’s perfect for us, peace and quiet and nothing ever happens there”

Darden read from the Encyclopaedia Galactica that Charltons Reach is a small planet on the opposite spiral arm to all the major powers in the Galaxy. Part of a three star system Kingdom it was a mainly agricultural planet well away from even local trading routes. It had one tourist attraction a small canyon with tall free standing rock formations called the Trolls Teeth. Flying through these at sunrise or sunset was a magical experience as the low sunlight reflects from the multi coloured rocks turning the formations into a kaleidoscope of reds and yellows. The rest of the land around Sheepscar Fell consisted of hill farms, wild open fells with rushing rivers and small waterfalls. Woods blanketed some of the hillsides around the town adding to the scene of rustic tranquillity.

Closing the screen down Darden smiled. “That looks just like my homeland of Northumberland” he thought “and I bet that’s not an accident. Mirenna is very good at organizing things like that”

Darden rose from his desk, walking briskly down the corridor he turned to the stairwell and bounded up two flights of stairs, entering the Senior Officers Corridor’s he noted the improved quality of the furnishings. “She going up in the world” he thought

Knocking on Minister Helens door he walked quickly in. Mirenna was stood waiting for him; she flung her arms around his neck and kissed him passionately.

“Thank you love” he said “it looks perfect”.


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Faraway Lad
Senator of the UP. Permanent Ambassador to the Court of Saint James

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Charltons Reach
Just outside the town of Sheepscar Fell
1st December
26 years ago.

Jessica ran through the trees in a blind panic. It was dark, but because the trees had lost their leaves the full moon giving just enough illumination to prevent her from running headfirst into a tree.

“Oh God, please spare me” she panted. She ran on not looking back. Behind her she heard a scream, it rose in pitch and intensity before mercifully stopping.

Jessica ran on tears running down her face, “forgive me mother” she whispered.

Now she could see the edge of the forest and beyond it the twinkling lights of the town of Sheepscar Fell. She redoubled her efforts and ran forward, but perhaps her tears had blinded her as she didn’t see the tangle of sawthorn bush in front of her. As she ran her hand brushed against the bush and the razor sharp ragged edges of the sawthorn bush thorns contracted, digging into the soft flesh of her palm. She cried out in pain. And in response she heard from the depths of the forest a loud
maniacal laughter.

“No” she whimpered, and in a panic she pulled her hand out of the tangled bush, blood and flesh spurted from the deep gashes caused by the thorns, the cuts made deeper by Jessica’s desperate attempt to free herself. With a final effort she freed herself and grasping her badly bleeding hand she staggered onwards. Now she was at the edge of the forest, only one field between her and the lights of the village. She could see the open door of the pub, even make out the shapes of people inside.

Raising her voice she shouted as long as she could, “Help. Help me”

“They won’t you know” said a soft voice in her right ear.

Jessica spun around, but as she did so she knew it would be useless. Almost everyone in the town had heard that voice before, but no one had ever seen its owner.

“Scream again of you wish child” said the voice from behind her.

Despite herself that was exactly what Jessica did.

“Alfred Howell, I Know you can hear me, please help me, don’t leave me alone” As she did so she staggered forward again, desperately seeking the safety of the lights.

Suddenly she was grabbed from behind and she could not move.

“Watch” said the voice behind her.

As Jessica watched she saw the door of the pub shut, the curtains were drawn and the lights put out, the three cottages alongside it did the same. Defeated Jessica’s shoulders slumped in defeat. The village had abandoned her. People she had grew up with, had gone to school with, had seen get married, people she thought were her friends had metaphorically and literally turned their backs on her, leaving her to her fate.

The voice behind her laughed, the sound chilled her to the marrow. “the sheep of Sheepscar” it laughed.

Resigned now, Jessica had given up and bowing her head she stood meekly awaiting her fate.

“Curious” said the voice behind her, “I shall have to speak to Lord Ridley one night”

Puzzled Jessica looked up, There, running across the field towards her was the Earl of Hulme, a hunting rifle in his hands, light streaming out from the widows of Loxley Hall casting his shadow across the field has he ran towards her.

Her heart rose, she was going to be saved.

“Goodnight child” whispered the voice behind her, for a fleeting second Jessica felt a hand on her back, then there was a shock throughout her entire body, her heart stopped beating instantly and she fell, dead.

No more than ten seconds later the young Lord Ridley ran up to Jessica. Lord Ridley looked about, he was alone. Alone that is except for the now still body of Jessica now lying alone in the dark where she fell, blood slowly pooling in the moonlight from her destroyed hand.


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Faraway Lad
Senator of the UP. Permanent Ambassador to the Court of Saint James

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Charltons Reach
Loxley Hall in the town of Sheepscar Fell
3.30 am 4th December
26 years ago.

Loxley Hall slept.

Lord David Ridley had been the only one other than the Vicar at the funeral of Wild Will Crozier, his wife Sarah and daughter Jessica from Cuddy’s Farm on Fell Ridge. Fear and Shame had kept the rest of the town from the funeral.

Only Mathew Hopkins had said anything to the Earl as he had passed him on the street earlier that day.

“Well m’lord” had said Matthew “I hope the daemon will forgive your defiance last week”

“Don’t give me that daemon rubbish Matthew” snarled Ridley, “You know I think there is a rational not a supernatural explanation for these things”

Ridley resented the fact that Hopkins seemed to be accepted by the rest of the village as communicating with this Daemon and was saying that offerings of money, jewels and valuable were required to keep the daemon at bay. Lord Ridley was sure Hopkins was getting rich, but he had no proof. Poor Crozier had thought like him and one night made a very public declaration in the Blue Bell that he was paying no more. Ridley had just returned from the result of that declaration.

The rain which had fallen constantly all day had eased as night fell. The town was subdued. The Blue Bell empty of customers as fathers returned home early to try to protect their families.

Lady Ridley had cried herself to sleep scared and blaming her young husband for bringing the family to the notice of “the voice” as she called it.

“What if it comes for little Susan” she had said

“Nothing can get through our security” was all her husband could say, “You know how good that system is”.

“I suppose so” she said, but he could see she was not convinced.

Now the house was quiet as the family finally slept, the only sound was the ticking of a large grandfather clock brought all the way from an ancestor’s home on Earth.

A curtain blew in a non-existent wind. A shadow fell on the wall. Slowly and silently some some…thing …moved down the corridor. A hand, white and thin reached forward to grasp a door handle. It paused then withdrew and the shadow moved on to another door. Finding the door it wanted, the hand reached forward again. This time it opened the door and moved silently into the bedroom. Ignoring the sleeping figures of the Earl and his wife, the shape moved to the small cot at the foot of the bed. Stooping down the figure picked up the sleeping baby that lay there. As it turned to leave the room it places a small note on the now empty pillow. Then as silently as it entered it left the room carrying the sleeping child with it.


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Faraway Lad
Senator of the UP. Permanent Ambassador to the Court of Saint James

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07.30 am

“David” the scream woke the entire household, “David…….She’s gone”

David Ridley jumped out of bed and ran to the cot where his wife stood shaking with fear, “Susan..” she stammered, “Susan’s gone”

David threw his arms around her; behind him he heard the bedroom door bang open as the Earls Footman ran in to see what was wrong. The Earl saw in the cot the note. Picking it up he read two simple words.

“A Warning”

Turning to the Footman, The Earl shouted, “don’t just stand there man, get the police”


Earl and Lady Hulme were sat in the Library waiting for news from the search of the house and grounds. There was a knock on the door and in walked Sergeant Collingwood of the local police together with Meg Ogle who was clutching a small bundle wrapped in blankets.

Clutching her husband’s hand tightly, Lady Hulme asked, “is…is that…..”

“It is mistress” said Meg with a little curtsy” She’ll need a check over but I think she’s fine”

As Lady Hulme ran to her daughter, Sergeant Collingwood said, “A moment sir”

They walked to the window. David Ridley looking back to see how his wife and daughter were doing.

“Well sergeant, what is it” he snapped.

“Meg found her this morning in her living room, Lady Susan seems to be fine, but she had this pined on her blanket” and the sergeant passed over a note. Even a cursory glance was enough to show it was in the same hand as the warning from last night.

“You cannot protect them. Nothing can keep me out and no one can escape me”

The message behind both notes was abundantly clear. The tenth Lord of Hulme knew he was beaten. He knew the only way to keep his family safe was to surrender to this terrible visitor. He slowly collapsed into a chair and buried his head in his hands and wept,


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Faraway Lad
Senator of the UP. Permanent Ambassador to the Court of Saint James

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Earth Orbit
25 Years ago
19th December.

“That’s the last of the bags stored lover” shouted Darden from the rear of the fast cruiser they had hired for the holiday.

“Good” said Mirenna from the cockpit, “get up here so we can get on, even at top speed it’s going to take us three days to get there”

Darden walked through to the cockpit, Mirenna was bending over the navicomp feeding in the directions. He looked at her, she was as lovely as she had been that first day they had met, even if the hair had already turned a soft shimmering white and a few wrinkles had formed around the eyes. A form fitting body suit accentuated her perfect derriere as she remained bent over the navicomp aware of his eyes on her. Aphrodite he had called her on that first true date after the ancient goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation. The name was apt then and it was still true now, although typically he had now taken to shortening it to Aphr, a nick name which seemed to fit her perfectly.

He was looking forward to this holiday; it had been a while since they had been able to spend time alone as Mirennas recent promotions to Minister had kept her busy in meeting after meeting.

Slowly the cruiser left orbit, and headed into space.

“Well Darden” asked Mirenna with a teasing smile playing on her lips “that’s everything done and sorted. We are officially on holiday and we have got nothing to do for the next three days. So what do you suggest we do to kill time?”

“I’m sure we’ll think of something” laughed Darden.

“Oh I have already thought” she answered, taking his hand and leading him into the bedroom “let’s start in here”


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Faraway Lad
Senator of the UP. Permanent Ambassador to the Court of Saint James

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Charlton’s Reach
Sheepscar Fell
25 years ago
19th December.

In a darkened room in the village of Sheepscar Fell, Matthew Hopkins sat in the middle of a pentagram. At various points around the pentagram were candles, animal skulls, ancient amulets and other paraphernalia of the occult. As he sat he chanted arcane verses preparing for the arrival of the daemon master who he served. A creature of the night that had promised, and delivered, riches in return for information on his neighbours who lived alongside him in Sheepscar Fell.

“Well acolyte” said a voice behind him “report”

Even though Matthew was expecting it the sudden voice made him jump. He had learnt from painful experience that he could not turn and see his master so he kept his head down and his eyes looked at the floor.

Hopkins told the daemon the petty goings on of the various family’s that lived alongside him, the arguments, the hopes for the future, and all the minutiae of daily life. Then after a few minutes he mentioned that Sergeant Collingwood had persuaded his constables to try to find out what was happening.

Behind him the creature laughed. “I will stop that” it said.

There was a brief gust of wind and one of the candles guttered and blew out. There was silence.

“Master” called out Hopkins but there was no response.

Standing and gathering his equipment Hopkins left the room. Turning to his left he entered another larger room. Closing the door carefully behind him he then turned to face the small hall full of scared villager’s. This was the part of the night he enjoyed most. Stretching out his arms he started to speak.

“The creature has spoken to me” he began “he is displeased” as he said that he heard a groan ripple through the crowd,” he hears people saying he does not exist. For this heresy he demands that the offerings increase……” Hopkins continued in this vein for a few minutes more. “Now servants of the creature, go forward tell the rest of the people that live in this sinful ton that to placate the creature, to show him that we are good and true people then the village must increase the offering to 3,000 credits a week.

As the crowd dispersed Hopkins smiled, with an offering of 3,000 credits he would be getting 500 a week. Soon he would be rich enough to leave this backwater planet in the luxury he desired.


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Faraway Lad
Senator of the UP. Permanent Ambassador to the Court of Saint James

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Deep Space
20th December.

Mirenna woke up cold and shivering. “Damnation” she thought “where has the quilt gone” Turning her head she noticed Darden lying next to her, he was covered in sweat and moaning as he thrashed around in the grip of a nightmare.

“Darden” she called softly, “wake up your having a …………” then she was on the floor, the bed was gone. “Oh crap” she said crossly. But at least the fall had woken him up. He was sitting up, looking at her groggily.

“it’s happened again hasn’t it” he said.

She nodded and reached gently across to take his hands. “This time you seems to have managed to send the bed and the bedding faraway Darden. You know we really need to work on your control before you cost us all our worldly possessions”

Mirenna stood up with a sigh and headed to one of the lockers.

“Come on let’s get some of the camping kit out so we can go back to sleep”

Standing looking out of the viewport Darden suddenly burst out laughing.

“Well I think I can say how faraway the bed went, Aphri come and have a look”

Moving over to the viewport Mirenna followed the direction of Darden’s pointing finger. She too burst out laughing and there floating in space about 300 yards off the port bow was the bed slowly turning over and over as it headed out and away from the cruiser


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Faraway Lad
Senator of the UP. Permanent Ambassador to the Court of Saint James

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Sheepscar Fell
Police Station
20th December.

Sergeant Collingwood looked up from his desk at the unhappy man in front of him.

“Not you as well Harris” he said.

“yes sir, sorry sir” said the worried man in front of him. “I wish it was otherwise sir, but…….but well I’m married sir, got a bairn and another one on the way”

Harris was actually twisting his cap around and around in his hands as he continued. “But it was in my home last night Sarge, the missus went into the bedroom to find furniture had been moved around, and little Vickie’s cot pushed up near the top of the stairs, like it was about to tumble down them stairs if you know what I mean. Hopkins warned us didn’t he, and then Constable Hughes ignored it and …..and then his little girl had that accident Hopkins told us, he did and …and…………..I can’t risk it Sarge I just can’t I’m sorry”

Harris paused then reaching a decision he placed a small badge and wooden baton on the desk. Nodding to a pile on a chair in the corner of the room he said “the rest of the uniforms in there, hope you are allowed to get some new constables soon Sarge” then Harris turned and left quickly, hurrying back to his terrified family.

Collingwood pushed his chair back and looked at the badge sitting on his desk. So that was that then. Harris had been the last, now Sheepscar Fell had a police force of one, himself. Collingwood did not really know what was going on but he knew his town was living in a cloud of fear and had been since the Croziers murder last year and if he couldn’t find out what was behind it soon the whole town would be bankrupt as they paid up the increasing offerings as suggested by that charlatan Hopkins.

“I wish I could ask someone for help” he said, reached down into a desk drawer and pulling out a bottle of cheap local whiskey with a small glass. “But how can I send a report to division asking for help in tracking down a ghost” pouring himself a shot he drank it down in one gulp.

“Well there are normal policing things to be done, the ghost can wait” and he walked out to patrol his town.


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Faraway Lad
Senator of the UP. Permanent Ambassador to the Court of Saint James

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Sheepscar Fell
The Blue Bell Inn
22st December

“There we go Mr Darden” said Alfred Howell Landlord of the Blue Bell showing Darden and Mirenna into the best room in the Inn “I hope it will suffice”

“I’m sure it will” said Darden, and actually he meant it. The room was plain and simple, but the four poster bed looked comfortable there was a log fire burning cheerfully in the grate and downstairs in the bar another fire burned brightly and the beer was well kept. So far so good.

After an hour to unpack and freshen up Mirenna and Darden were back in the bar. Darden was testing another one of the beers, whilst Mirenna was examining an old fashioned actual paper map on the wall on which was marked various walks.

“This one looks good” she said pointing out a route to a local water feature called Hawsgarth Force. Looking over Alfred nodded, “it is a good one and although I shouldn’t recommend a competitor the beer at the Green Dragon at Hawsgarth Village is pretty good. Nice to stop for a rest before heading back”

And so they set off, the walk to the force along a pleasant wooded valley bottom was about 4 miles of pretty easy going. It was a perfect day for a winter walk, cold crisp and clear. As they walked they talked enjoying the simple pleasure of each other’s company. Hawsgarth Force was a 50 foot high waterfall, the river Hawsgarth thundering out between two rock cliff faces causing a funnel effect. AS the winter sunlight shone the spray from the falls glistened and shone like the entrance to a magical kingdom..

After a while they turned from the falls and headed up the hill toward the village they could see on the skyline.

They walked up to the door of the Green Dragon the frosty air turning their breath into small playful swirling clouds Opening the door they entered a small welcoming lounge. There was a small bar in the corner and two locals sitting having a quiet drink.

“What can I get you” said the barman.

After ordering Darden and Mirenna sat down, “Out for a walk” asked the barman, making, as barmen throughout the galaxy do, small conversation.

“yes” replied Darden “we’ve been to see the force and now after sampling the excellent beer here we are going back to the Blue Bell, that’s where we are staying”

“Humph” snorted one of the local sitting at the table behind them “wouldn’t be staying there, you should get out whilst you can, place is haunted it is”

“Albert” said the barman, “don’t go filling people’s heads with rubbish like that”

The bar lapsed into an awkward silence. Hurriedly finishing their drinks Darden and Mirenna stood to leave. Strapping on their packs they set out into a landscape that was changing. The sun had gone and angry clouds were building. The pleasant open countryside had changed it now felt harsh and forboding. As they stepped out of the door and whilst they were putting their waterproofs the man who had warned them of the haunting stepped out. “if you’re staying at the Blue Bell you ask old Alfred about Jessica Crozier and her family. Murdered they was, last year. And since then village has been cursed, a creature lives there now, a creature that kills, you be best leaving whilst you can” and with that he turned and went back into the warmth of the pub.

Darden looked at Mirenna and shrugged. “Locals trying to wind tourists up do you think” he asked.

“Probably” she said, “but something about that man has me wondering. Ah well nothing we can do until we get back to the Blue Bell”

She looked up at the clouds. “And let’s get a move on” she said, “that looks like snow”

A couple of hours later the two returned to the Blue Bell, wet and cold as snow fell heavily. Boots crunched on the carpet of snow they entered the Inn. Quickly looking in the front room they saw a few villagers sitting, reading talking and drinking.

“Let’s go up get changed and come down to ask a few questions” said Darden.

A few more minutes and they were back down in the front room of the Inn. Mirenna had dressed with care, she was glamorous but approachable. She moved around talking to all the guests, the men laughing and smiling as she charmed them. The women smiling at her jokes and seeing her as a member of the sister hood and not as a threat to their realtionships.

Sat at the bar with his back to the room, Darden was watching her in the large acid etched mirrors behind the bar. Studying her questions and the answers she was getting. Judging the moment to perfection Darden leaned forward and asked Alfred “I understand that a young girl caused Jessica died here last year, what happened”

He couldn’t have made more of an impact if he had fired a gun in the room. Suddenly everyone was silent; looking closely at the faces in the mirror Darden could see a mix of fear and resentment.

After a pause Alfred cleared his throat, “no one know what happened sir” he said, looking at his customers for support,” Police never found a suspect, we all felt so sorry for that girl, such a shame sir”

There was a chorus of agreement, and nods. Mirenna quickly spoke again changing the subject, soon the dark mood was lifted and forgotten, as jokes and laughter started again led skilfully by Mirenna, Darden looked at her in the mirror and she looked back, their eye briefly met and there was a fraction of a nod between them.

These people were lying.

Later that night, Darden was standing the gents, as people who drink beer tend to do. Into the Gents came a customer, Bill Darden thought his name was.

Standing next to him Bill said “there was more to it than that you know”

“oh?” said Darden waiting for the next sentence, this man obviously wanted to tell him something.

Clearing his throat Bill hesitated then in a rush he started. “Some say this village is cursed, and that the croziers were killed as a warning” speaking quickly and with a palpable sense of relief that he could finally talk about things, Old Bill told Darden of the goings on over the last year. He was just about to discuss the “offerings” when a hand dropped on his shoulder. “Hush Bill” said Matthew Hopkins, “do you want to come to his notice”

Seeing Hopkins there and realising he had said too much Bills face drained of colour. Mumbling an apology he hurriedly left the gents.

Looking at Hopkins Darden raised an eyebrow, but Matthew ignored the unspoken question and turned and left.

A few minutes later and Darden was sitting once more with Mirenna in the bar. “Well a funny thing just happened to me in the gents” he said and quickly filled her in.

“I think we maybe need to speak to the local police about this don’t you said Mirenna. Let’s go in the morning

Saying there goodnights the couple went upstairs to bed.

As they entered the room Mirenna put her fingers on Darden lips making a hushing noise.
Moving noisily around the room speaking loudly but saying general pleasantry’s Mirenna checked the room final she stood straight and pointed to two spots, one a side lamp the other a light switch.

Darden nodded. He concentrated, focusing on this “gift” or power he now had, Feeling with his senses he made a small gesture with his fingers. The Lamp and a large part of the wall disappeared.

Mirenna relaxed, “where did they go this time” she asked.

“Still not sure” replied Darden, “let’s just say that the listening equipment has gone somewhere faraway. Any idea who put them in here?”

“Standard law enforcement issue I think” she replied, “another reason to go speak to the local coppers in the morning” her eyes were bright and as hard as steel. “I don’t like people spying on me”


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Faraway Lad
Senator of the UP. Permanent Ambassador to the Court of Saint James

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Old Bill was walking home “old fool” he thought to himself as he trudged through the snow “that was the drink loosening your tongue like that” As he continued on his way towards his house he did not see the shadow against one of the houses. He did not see the shadow move and follow him.

Old Bill was hurrying now as he snow fell, getting deeper by the minute, he wanted to get into the warmth. “Stupid fool” he said to himself “maybe it won’t find out, maybe Matthew won’t tell him”

“And maybe it already knows” said a sinister voice behind him. Bill spun around wildly but there was nothing there. “no” croaks Bill tears of fear starting down his cheeks.

“Yesssss” hisses the voice behind him.

Spinning around again Bill sees nothing.

“It must be” says the voice, once again behind him. For a brief second Bill feels a hand on his back. Then there is a shock and his heart stops, Bill falls dead in the snow.


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Faraway Lad
Senator of the UP. Permanent Ambassador to the Court of Saint James

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Sheepscar Fell.
Blue Bell Inn
23rd December

Darden and Mirenna were finishing breakfast.
With a sigh of contentment Darden pushed his cup back, “well it’s not Klatchian Gold for sure but that’s not a bad cup of coffee”

Later the couple went out in to a snow covered street heading for the local police station, as they strolled along Darden’s attention was caught by a mound lying in the snow, he stated walking towards it, hoping he was wrong, that It was not what it looked like. As he got closer his footsteps faltered. Sadly there was no doubt about it now; it was a snow covered body.

“Aphri ” he called “looks like we are going to need the constabulary to come to us” as he eyes scanned the scene looking for clues.


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Faraway Lad
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Sheepscar Fell
Main Street

Darden and Mirenna were now sat in the small room that served as Sheepscar’s police station. Opposite them sat Sergeant Collingwood. Despite the fact that this was a rural and out of the way posting both the offworlders had been impressed by Collingwoods professionalism and commitment. The body had been forensically examined and the area swept and searched for clues. As there were no witnesses and nothing was found around the body not even footprints the consensus was that Old Bill had had a bit too much to drink and fallen asleep in the snow and that the cold had killed him.

However Darden could see that, like them, Collingwood didn’t really believe that. Although he was doing his best to keep things normal he seemed scared and edgy.

“Thank you for your patience” Collingwood was saying “it must be upsetting for you to see a dead body like that; I hope it won’t spoil your holiday too much shall I arrange for you to leave?”

“Thank you sergeant” replied Mirenna smiling. She leant forward, a cold mask falling on her face, her voice monotone, guarded, careful and terrifyingly calm, as she continued, “in my job I have seen things so despicable, so evil, so absolutely inhuman that they would chill the very marrow in your bones. I am not one to be unsettled at the sight of one miserable little body” She leant forward a little more, her voice becoming softer and more dangerous as she caught Collingwood’s gaze, holding him firmly in the grip of her steely eyes. “And We are going nowhere until we get some answers”

Sergeant Collingwood of the Royal Frontier Constabulary was a brave man; He had seen active service in a number of border wars, rising to the rank of Troop Sergeant Major in Skinners Lancers. In all the years of his service he had seen the look in Mirennas eyes, had seen the depths of hell behind her eyes only once or twice before, and the memory of those meeting still gave him nightmares now.

Collingwood found himself sweating. “what do you want to know” he asked.

“Start with why you were trying to eavesdrop on our room” she said “and you had better pray it was for legitimate police reasons and not just your perversions” she paused to add extra effect to the next words ,”or you will learn new and innovative meanings of the word pain”.

“it..it…” started Collingwood nervously “It wasn’t really an official police operation” he continued “You were offworlders and you were asking a lot of questions about things this village would prefer people not to ask questions about, I wanted to know what you knew. To know if I could safely just run you out of town or if I needed to take further action”

Darden moved forward and casually put his hand on Mirennas shoulder to restrain her. He could feel the repressed anger throbbing through her body, barely in check and he was worried she might lose control. “I think you may find trying to run us out of town a bit more difficult than you imagined”

Collingwood nodded he was starting to realise that these offworlders were something more than simple civil servants on holiday. “I reckon you might be right at that” he paused, “But whilst I can understand that you could find the listening devices what I can’t understand is how you managed to remove them from the room, take them 8 miles away to Hawsgarth Force and get back unseen and unnoticed”

Darden smiled so that’s where they went.

“Alright” Darden said, keeping his hand on Mirennas shoulder, just in case and ignoring Collingwood’s question “so, you were worried about us asking about the Croziers death, why?, what are you trying to hide?” Looking at the Sergeant closely he smiled and said, “I think you better let us see the files”

Three hours later and they had read all the official papers on the unresolved deaths of the Croziers, the attacks on the Hughes family even the events at the Earls Mansion. As they finished Mirenna said “now, let us see the unofficial files”

Collingwood looked up sharply. How had she guessed? Realising there was no point in further lies, he reached into a desk drawer and pulled out a small battered Omnicom. It was with a strange sense of relief that he passed it across to Mirenna “here, read this” he said “it has everything too outlandish to put in a police report”

As he passed it over no one sat in that small nondescript office, realised they were being watched.

“Him being here makes this difficult” said a hooded and cloaked figure “perhaps this is a chance to be rid of him for good” the figure vanished.

In the office Darden stiffened.

“What is it” asked Mirenna

“I’m not sure” said Darden, “it felt familiar, but” he trailed off, “never mind” he continued “look it’s getting late, let’s go get a bite to eat at the pub” He looked at Collingwood, “we’ll carry on with this in the morning”

“OK” said Collingwood “I need to go out on evening patrol anyway”

Mirenna and Darden left the police station and walked briskly across the deep snow to the Blue Bell.

Behind them Collingwood locked the doors to the station. He climbed into his flyer, it was an old model and he actually had to manually fly it.

In a few short minutes he was flying up to the Trolls Teeth, there had been reports of sheep going missing up on Armstrong’s Farm and he wanted to take a look see if some silly kids from the city were messing about Looking up he saw more heavy snow clouds he briefly wondered if he should turn back, but he had done this drive so many times in the past he felt safe enough, if the weather really closed in he would hole up in Armstrong’s spare room and drive back down in the morning.

“It is dangerous to be out here at night in this weather” said a menacing voice into his right ear. Collingwood spun his head around struggling to see behind him, but there was nothing there, no wait, out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw a shape in the passenger seat. He twisted again but the seat was empty.

“boo” said the voice from behind him again.

Collingwood reached behind him with one hand groping desperately to try to catch the owner of that voice. His hand swept through empty space. Collingwood looked over his shoulder again, but saw nothing.

Suddenly Collingwood felt a hand pulling on the steering wheel; instinctively he grabbed back and at the same time swung a punch towards the passenger seat. Which was, of course, empty.

“You know”

said the mocking voice once more from behind him. Driven mad with frenzy Collingwood leapt out of his seat and half into the empty seats behind him, trying desperately to grab at the voice. Scrabbling around in the back seat he heard that voice once more from behind him.

“You really should look where you are going”

With his heart sinking Collingwood turned and looked out of the front of the flyer. He saw the large and very very solid granite wall of one of the Trolls Teeth looming in front of him.

“shi…..” was all he had time to say before the car crashed into the rock face and exploded.

As the deadly fireball blossomed in the cold wet air, the snow began to fall once again. Standing at the head of the Valley a hooded and cloaked figure watched as the flaming pieces of the flyer fell outward to the ground.

The figure watched the flames for a moment more “Just one more thing to clear up” it said then vanished.


From: Newcastle upon Tyne England | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Faraway Lad
Senator of the UP. Permanent Ambassador to the Court of Saint James

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Sheepscar Fell.
Blue Bell Inn
24th December

Mirenna stood looking out of the window. The village lay under a deep blanket of snow. Off to one side, in front of the gates leading to Loxley Hall, a large Christmas tree stood, beautifully decorated and lit by many brightly coloured lamps, the children of the village had gathered around it to sing carols as part of a midnight mass. In many respects it was the perfect way to celebrate Christmas Eve. But Sergeant Collingwoods death had cast a pall over the whole village. Most of the locals were avoiding Darden and Mirenna now, silently blaming them for the latest tragedy to befall them..

Earlier they had eaten a quiet meal together, talking over all they had read and heard, trying to make sense of all they knew. So far though, every theory they had come up with they had rejected as not covering all the facts.

Now they were getting ready for bed.

“Darden” said Mirenna “you don’t think it really could be a ghost do you?”

“To be honest, who knows” he replied “but this is a big Galaxy, and there are a lot of unknowns out there, I think if it’s anything it’s an unknown life form. What it is and where it’s from I don’t know. Heck we don’t even know if it’s intelligent or just an animal doing what its nature demands of it. How we find it and stop it I have no idea”

They climbed into bed together and switched the lights out.

“Well tomorrows Christmas Day my dear” said Darden “I suggest we have as nice a day as we can then leave it to the authorities. I messaged the RFC HQ and they are sending out a full unit, we can hand over to them and return to Earth and the simple things in life such as trying to work out an answer to the problem of Taltar and the Tor of G'ibral”

“Optimist” said Mirenna snuggling in “sleep tight, we’ll sort this out tomorrow”

Much later that night Darden turned over as he did so his half asleep brain thought “why is there a puddle in the bedroom” waking suddenly as he realised what the wet sensation meant Darden opened his eye and groggily knelt up he recognized from the way he felt that somehow he had used his gift on himself. so the next question was just how faraway was he. Looking around he saw he was in the field across from the Inn. The wetness that had awoken him was of course the heavy snow that lay around about. That’s good he thought, not too far to get back in the warmth.

Looking up at the Inn Darden was suddenly aware; he knew not how, that Mirenna was in danger. An intense and deep rage suddenly flared up inside him, he tensed and then, then it happened, all of a sudden he could see the force, the energy that he had been tapping into, could see how these lines of force could be manipulated and controlled. A wave of euphoria swept over him, this was magnificent he could do anything.

Then he remembered Mirenna. He looked up at the room, he could sense her presence, sense the outlines of the furniture it was all there. But no. What was that? Fear leapt in his heart as he noticed for the first time the empty space in the room with her. The blankness in the energy was a hole in the fabric of reality. He reached for it commanding the energy to bring that nothingness to him, but he could not grasp it, it was forever slipping anyway

Worried Darden saw the emptiness move towards Mirenna. Without thinking he commanded himself to move. Instantaneously he was in the bedroom he saw a figure standing next to the bed a hand stretching out towards Mirenna. Darden recognized the device the figure held as a Hazorian Assassins glove. Touching the live terminal of that would create such a shock wave that would instantly stop the heart.

Darden jumped forward and grabbed the figures arm

And then his world exploded. He was flung backward as was the figure. Springing onto his knees he leapt towards the figure again. The figure seemed stunned. Darden quickly swung a punch as it connected there was a huge bang, the figure vanished and Darden was flung backwards against the wall. Staggering forward again Darden noted Mirenna had jumped out of the bed and was crouched aiming a small, but deadly blaster. Looking again he saw that the room was empty. He also realised that he no longer could see or connect with that amount of control to that force anymore.

Never mind he would think about that later For now he needed to make sure she was alright.

Lights were going on in the Inn; there was a knocking at the door. “Are you all right Mr Darden” came the voice of Alfred Howell “what’s going on in there”

“Everything’s fine Mr Howell” shouted Darden, “sorry but we fell asleep on the remote and it just took us a while to switch the volume down”

“well” came back a voice full of doubt “please be careful in future. You gave us a scare”

Mirenna was quickly getting dressed, “We need to get to the bottom of this Darden, once and for all” she said. The question was there in her voice.

“Hopkins” agreed Darden “he’s been acting as the intermediary I’ll bet he’s in league with it”


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Faraway Lad
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A few minutes later they were both standing outside the home of Matthew Hopkins

“I think the time for subtlety is over” said Darden. He waved his hands theatrically and the door to Hopkins house just went somewhere else. He looked across at Mirenna and smiled, “after you” and bowed theatrically

“show off” whispered Mirenna as she moved forward to the empty door space blaster in hand.

Moving with practised ease they entered and searched the house

“Aphri” said Darden pointing to a door “I can feel it, it’s down there”

They open the door and moved quietly and silently down the stairs to a small basement room,

As they moved into the room Mirenna noted the pentagram, the candles and all the implements of black magic. Then with a gasp of surprise she realised what else she could see. Standing over the limp body of Hopkins was a figure of a man, dressed in a hood and cloak it looked up and seemed to be surprised.

“You….you can see me” he said.

“Mirenna” said Darden urgently “keep looking at him; don’t let him get behind you. As long as the two of us can see each other and him he can’t use his powers to get behind us”

The figure pulled back his hood and Mirenna looked in surprise, the family likeness was striking.

“Hello Brother” said the figure.

Darden looked shocked, “but you…….you were killed. There, on the beach I saw you…..” He tailed off.

“Evidently not” said the figure. “I wasn’t sure to start with but meeting you here and especially after tonight I think I am starting to see.

The figure laughed. “you see we were on opposite sides of that, that anomaly, that day. Opposite sides must have led to opposite reactions; opposite powers, you are ying to my yang if you like.

“After the explosion” he continued “I awoke, well let’s say somewhere else. It wasn’t nice, the creatures on the other side of that anomaly experimented on me for months. Never speaking, never asking for answers” He shuddered “then one day I woke up back in this universe. My powers were pretty much well honed. It was easy to get money, so I decided to get rich”

“And those powers are?” Interrupted Darden

“Oh come on brother, don’t be so dense” said the figure. “Ying and Yang remember. Look you can send things, people etc faraway can’t you” Darden nodded “and you know that if you want to you can take an object and move it faraway out of reach and keep it just faraway enough so people can never get to it” Again Darden nodded. “Well I can get close to people and can stay behind them out of sight unable to be touched always just behind you”

“What” said Mirenna in confusion, looking at Darden

“Mirenna” warned Darden looking at her. Then


The two of them had just taken their eyes off the figure and even though they instantly tuned back it was too late. There was an empty space over Hopkins body.

Darden spun around and groaned as he saw the knife at Mirennas throat.

“This one is very pretty brother, much better than the class of woman that you normally get”

Darden did not even think, using his power on Mirenna she vanished faraway from danger. In the same movement Darden launched himself at the shadow behind where she once stood. He reached out and grabbed its arm.

Once again there was a huge explosion, concussive force flung Darden backwards knocking him out.

As Darden swum groggily back into consciousness he realized he was lying on his back outside in the snow. Mirennas face swung into focus above him. Concern was etched across her face. “Oh thank the gods you’re ok” she said. “what happened to” she paused

Getting slowly to his feet Darden said “It’s true. He is my brother Aphri the brother I thought was dead.

Darden shook his head. “As to where he is now I don’t know, either getting off or already off planet I would guess. He always would run away rather than stand and fight, usually after lying to get me into trouble”

Darden stood in the snow and shook his head slowly

“I found out tonight that the brother I thought was dead is alive. I should be so happy Aphri, but how can I be” moisture glistened in his eye as he battled to control his emotions “but how can I be happy to find out my brother is a murderer and blackmailer”

The two silently and gently embraced as the snow once again began to fall covering the street with a new crisp and pure white coat, almost a fresh start. They said nothing, as nothing needed to be said,



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Faraway Lad
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Christmas Day
25 Years Ago.

Christmas Day had dawned bright and sunny. The snow had covered all the land around in a cold crisp white blanket.

They had risen late and exchanged presents, then gone down to have a traditional meal. Then had returned to bed for one last time before heading to the cruiser and the long journey home.

The town of Sheepscar Fell was full. Everywhere you looked it seemed as if Police and reporters were interviewing everyone as the Story of the Ghost of Sheepscar Fell started to enter into legend.

Alfred Howell had a full Inn and the rest of the village was already starting to feel the beginning of economic recovery as visitors were enquiring about making a trip and take the “ghost” tour. Darden was content, they would soon recover the money his brother had taken from them and go on to make much much more.

The police had tracked down an unauthorised launch late last night and were investigating the money trail but deep down Darden knew his brother had got away and was probably out there somewhere plotting his next act.

Now Darden and Aphri had left the village and the media circus behind them. They stood alone together in the late afternoon sunlight at the foot of one of the Trolls Teeth. A small bunch of flowers had been placed at the base of the rock column the pale colours of the flowers contrasting with the blackened and burnt wall of rock.

In silence they stood, paying tribute to a brave man who was killed simply because he tried to do his duty, because he got in the way.

As the sun set and the light faded they turned and slowly walked to the shuttle resting on the grass behind them. Soon they were back in their cruiser in orbit. As they awaited permission to depart on the three day trip back to Earth, Darden was pottering in the small galley preparing a meal for them.

Mirenna was staring out of the viewport chewing her bottom lip. She looked down at the parchment in her hands. She had no idea how it had got on board but it had. It was real, ancient parchment written on in ink and sealed, not signed. She looked at it again to make sure, but it was still there an ornate N superimposed on three lions.

It was her next posting. And it was completely unexpected and a little frightening.

It appeared that N, yes that N, had noticed her and wanted her to join Department S of MI3 but there was always a catch. She could tell no one, not even Darden who she was going to be working for when they got back, nor what she would have to do.

Mirenna hated herself; she knew she was going to accept the offer. She also knew she could never tell him, He would never agree to the things she would have to do. Not since he had seen what that could mean at Corycus. That had almost destroyed him.

This would be the first time she kept a secret from him, secure in the knowledge that they both knew how to keep secrets from the world they never kept secrets from each other. But this…this she knew if he found out it could tear them apart.


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