The Blackberry Tales 15 - Thunk (the Hallowe'en edition)

The cottage in Wales I was staying in had thick, thick walls.  Those sort of walls that feel immoveable and solid.  The cottage had stood here for nearly 200 years and seen much weather and not a lot phased it.

So what, along the otherwise smoothly plastered walls, was this head sized bulge?  Every time I went up the stairs I ran my hand over it, it felt wrong not to.  It was compelling "stroke me" I could almost hear the whisper on the outskirts of my brain.  Sometimes I tried to resist.  Sometimes I walked up the stairs and managed to get past and yet I knew that I was meant to do it.  I knew that it was not that I had forgotten, it was not that I just did not think of it; it was an act of resistance that could not be ignored when I walked past the next time.  Normality of the abnormal would resume.

I tried to find if there were folk-tales in the area that might explain it.  I find one about a witch who lived on the hillside above the bay in a cottage by a stream.  The name of the cottage I was staying in meant stream in Welsh.  I find another that names a building I can identify probably about 1 mile away where another witch lived.  Tales of witches are common and these were usually wise women who were healers skilled in the use of herbs/plants.  I am not going to go into the rise of witch hunting and the horrors that unleashed.  I am going to mention that it is allegedly rare to find a truly black cat in the UK as most have a fleck or touch of some other colour as the truly black cats were all murdered alongside their mistresses during this time.  I do not know if this is true, but it sounds plausible.  As a great fan of black cats, I always like to have one, I think they are a greatly underestimated colour of cat and yes I think I would have been a candidate for burning back in the day.

I have wandered from my tale, I tried to think about whether witch activity could explain the inwards dent into the cottage.  I pondered it and pondered it until I finally gave in to not knowing.

That night whilst I am sleeping I was woken by a soft thump somewhere in the cottage.  I am that sudden very awake, not quite sitting bolt upright (surely that is only in films?) but I am awake, my eyes are open, well I think they are open it is impossible to tell.  In this dark there is no perceptible difference.  Firstly I need to understand where I am.  This is not home, home is dark but not this dark,  so a mild uncertainty breaks in.  It is that warm matt-black pitch dark.  I focus my thoughts, I know where I am.  I heard a thump, I did hear a thunk.  

"it's the bathroom door" I tell myself.  The bathroom door is heavy and on a spring.  It nearly closes behind you but finishes off the last couple of inches to a real close after a pause.  Sometimes the pause is seconds, sometimes minutes: this time it has been a few hours I tell myself, for this is what it must have been.  I close my eyes and try to get back to sleep.  Something moves in the corner of the room just as my eyes close.  I don't think I saw it and yet now I think back, I did. 

I am awake and walking around the back of the cottage, I see the body of an enormous man with his head embedded in the side of the cottage.  He is stuck fast and shouts to me:

"It's taken you long enough, don't just stand there gawping, do something?" there are various expletives inserted in between each word, you get the gist.

"What can I do?" I reply, "I cannot pull you out, how do I help?" and I start that pocket-patting dance that means I am looking for my phone because my phone is the answer to everything.  In my phone there will be help - hopefully the Fire Brigarde help.  Before I find my elusive phone a black cat sidles past me, sleeking itself along my shin and stops in front of me looking up. 

 "it's not tea time yet"  I say without thinking.  I say this all the time to my cats when by mid-afternoon they are starting to hope it might be food time.  I have no idea what time it is though, maybe it is tea-time.  The cat looks unimpressed yet fixes me steadily with its gaze.  I hear a voice saying "hello". 

"A talking cat!, Hello little one" I say out-loud with a mixture of disbelief and excitement that my talking to cats for all these years had not been in vain.

 "Don't be ridiculous" says the middle-aged woman walking up alongside the back of the cottage towards me.  She does not seem to see the man, she smiles and walks towards me as if to have a conversation about the weather.  Her salt and pepper hair is cut short and she is wearing dark grey denimy cotton trousers and top.  It is not in fashion but it is a fashion.   I return her smile through my embarrassment and point uselessly at the man: 

" I can't help him" I say uselessly.  

"Good" she replies, " I don't want him helping.  He is a fool.  He has been trying to scare me from my cottage so that he can take my land from me.  It will then control the stream that starts just up the hill and he can divert it to his needs rather than let it run free and supply the lower farms.  He ran towards the cottage and slipped and his head is now embedded.  He deserves this for this is his fate."

I stare firstly at the woman not totally sure what she was saying, I then stare back at the man.  I open my mouth to speak and then

I wake up.  There is nothing more weird than dreaming you have woken from a dream to be woken again from what apparently was another dream.  I am disoriented.

I put on my dressing gown and go and sit on the stairs by the dent. 

"Is that you?" I whisper "did you escape or is this where you ended?" 


Take care and be kind.

For more from the Blackberry Garden follow me on Twitter Facebook and Instagram