It is not important to know who started it first, but now, our gang who are known for their bravery, are running helter-skelter through the brambles and bracken of St Anne’s Hill, down Chestnut wood and into the haunted Old Coach Road, then through the darkened ‘Monk’s Walk’ and finally into the open top field. We throw ourselves into the long grass gasping for breath, Siki is the first to speak.
“What about that horrible noise, what did you think it was”?
Wadie, who was still breathless and hardly able to get his words out, said.
“Do you mean that croaking sound Siki, yeah, that was bad enough, but what about those birds. I have never heard such a row; they must have been Eagles or something as big as that to make such a racket. What did you hear Trevor”?
“You couldn’t miss it could you, the birds were the worst, they sounded more like some ancient dinosaur sort of bird to me, you know, like the ones we saw in Flash Gordon the other day. I felt that I was being pushed along by something. I just couldn’t stop myself, I nearly fell over, what about you Nutsy”?
“Nutsy, what did you hear”.
Nutsun had simply vanished, one minute he was with us and then he wasn’t. Siki said without thinking.
“He isn’t the fittest of boys, and a predator or whatever was in the woods will always take the weakest”
. At this, Thunder started to panic.
“We’ve got to find him, he’s very afraid of the dark, he would say he can see monsters moving in the shadows and would never go out at night. We will have to go back to look for him, he’ll be terrified”.
I’m not known to be the bravest member of our gang, and I looked at the darkening woods with a tight feeling in my bum, and then, I felt my blood run cold.
Out of the corner of my eye I could see something moving in the bushes. There was a faint glow coming and going, like the blinking eyes of some sort of—thing. It is near the big pile of stones they call ‘The Monks Grave’, it is getting nearer.
Up till that moment I had never believed the stories of the Monk who is buried in the woods. There was a Monastery on the hill for many years, and a monk had fallen in love with a nun. It could never be allowed, he was heartbroken, and he stabbed himself in the heart, he is buried in the woods. That part of the woods is called Monks Walk; I was now willing to believe anything.
Before any of us could move, out of the woods walked Nutsun—as cool as a cucumber. He was waving a little torch which was just a glimmer, the batteries were nearly dead.
Pointing over his shoulder he said.
“This lady showed me the way here after I fell over near the Beacon lookout. When I got up, I couldn’t see which way you had all gone. Then this kind lady all dressed in black like a nun, beckoned me to follow her. She had this lovely big black bird which guided us along a tunnel in the bushes. It was amazing, I wish I had a bird like that”.
I just knew from the way my flesh was creeping and how my hair was standing on end—my body was in overdrive— that I must not look over to where Nutsy was pointing.
I knew there would be no lady there, and then there was a noise like rustling silk, followed by flapping wings, and what sounded very much like a laugh.
Once again, our gang is being tested for fearlessness, will we always stand and face whatever is before us. We are known for our bravery, but this needs something beyond bravery, and at this moment we seem to be at a loss to know what is required of us. So, rather than do something that could upset whatever it is in those darkened woods, we decide it would better all-round if we retired gracefully.
Bronwen was trying so hard not to laugh, she said.
“That’s what you ccccall the English wwway, graceful in defeat”.
It is almost a mile back home; we flew, it was as if we had the wings of those big birds we had heard in the woods. As soon as I walked into the kitchen, my mum gives me a clip around the ear. This happens all the time, she uses it like a greeting—I suppose you could call it affectionate.
“What was that for” I ask.
“Just in case” she says.
I start to tell her my story, but I can see by the way she is standing she doesn’t believe a word of it; she never does. Probably with good reason, as I have said before, I am known as a bit of a storyteller. My sister Chrissy, who has been listening, says.
“Did you see the headless horseman or the man with the staring eyes”?
They all start laughing, she is always teasing me, but this time, for a change I’m telling the truth. I see my brother Don is listening very carefully, I think I may have given away the secret of the treasure. I’ll be in trouble with the others now.