Monday, 25 March 2013

Magic Falls Part 13

I’m sure that Bretton would be rather pretty by day, but between the endless winter that’s been causing consistent dark clouds and the fact that afternoon is slipping towards evening, and it just feels desolate and cold.

We drive down past some grey buildings, and park near the bottom of them. Fields with strange sculptures sweep out to our right towards the main buildings, but I can see further out, and the fields go on and on. There’s a river in front of us.

The Hall itself is a large, imposing building. As we walk towards it, Jack points between some of the smaller buildings. “That’s the pillar I was telling you about.”

“Convergence of ley-lines?”


“Where are the police?” I ask. “If there have been kids going missing, shouldn’t this place be… I don’t know, under lock-down or something?”

“There’s nothing here, Darren,” he says. “That’s part of the problem. They’ve not found a bloody thing.”

I follow him as we walk past the hall and down towards the river.

“It’s not really good conditions for this kind of thing,” I say. “Wouldn’t we be better doing this in the daytime?”

“I want to show you where she went missing, that’s all. We can start looking around the rest of it tomorrow, but before we do anything else, I want to give you a sense of it.”

I nod. “If that’s important to you.” I don’t fully understand, but I do want to help.

“I…” he hesitates. “It just seems important. To see that bit, and then you have some sense of it.”

“Okay,” I say quietly.

He starts walking again, turning right and up a field, away from the path. The sculptures begin to get less abstract, and more defined.

“It’s not far from here,” he says. “See those trees?”

There’s a sculpture of a man crouching, but it’s giant. He’s set apart from the trees themselves. “Yeah.”

“It’s just the other side of there. This was part of the area the students got to design and build years ago.”

There are strange details, as we walk closer, including a tree in a phone box. Sculptures built into walls and paths and ponds, and utilizing the nature around them.

“I would not want to be drunk around here,” I say. The sheer strangeness of the area means that I miss the village.

“Look down,” Jack says quietly, and I do, towards the foot of the fir trees we are near, and I spot them.

A series of doors, windows and buildings carved into the trees themselves. I drop to one knee to take a proper look. “Wow.”

“I know.”

“They’re impressive.” And they are. A little fairytale village carved into trees. They look functional. “They… look like they fit.”

“They do, don’t they?” he says. “Like they’re meant to be there.”


“I’ve seen it before, but…”

I stand up. “Jack?”


“Why am I here?”


“Seriously, what’s going on? There’s something here you’re not telling me.”

He looks away. “Jamie said you should be here.”

I don’t know what Jamie filled his head with, but I’m worried that Jack’s built me up as definitely being able to do something here. I feel like I’m an observer in a play, suddenly being asked to take a lead role, but with no knowledge of what’s meant to happen. Or even what my part is.


An idea forms and instantly takes hold.

“Are you telling the truth about Andrea, Jack? I will kill you if – “

“Yes.” I see fear creep across his face, and I almost instantly lose my anger and indignation. “Yes, I’m telling the truth, about Andrea and the others. I just… Jamie convinced me that you’d be able to help, and…I’m desperate, Darren.”

“Okay.” I say. “Okay.”

The area is freaking me out slightly. More than slightly, actually. It feels like it’s…been allowed to grow wild.

“The last time she saw Andrea, she was standing here. She walked over that way – “ he points towards a path. “- for a minute, and then looked back and she was gone.”

He walks over that way and then looks back. I look around, and realize that while there are trees around, there aren’t many places to hide.

“It’s quiet enough here that if someone was around, we’d know about it, I reckon,” I point out. “Someone would have to be actively hiding to have snatched her.”

“That’s what I thought,” Jack says. “If Lorna didn’t see her, then she’d have heard something. She said she was singing a little bit to herself, and then it just stopped.”

One of the plus points about the fields surrounding this area is the comparative lack of hiding places. There are paths leading into another part of the forest, though, and I’m about to look further into them when Jack calls me back.

He points down towards me on the ground. “Look at that,” he says. “That’s strange.”

I look down. The dark, cold and rain are not sharpening my observational powers.

"What is?" I ask.

"Look at the ground. It's different around here."

I try, but for the life of me, I can't see whatever it is that he's talking about.

"What am I meant to be seeing?"

"No, not there," he says. "Take a couple of steps back, and then look again, but don't try to focus on any one part of it."

"You're making it sound like a magic eye painting. I could never do them either."

He gestures around in a circle. "Look. You see it?"

I don't, but I try to do what he says. Instead of looking intently, I try to look more generally, and take in the whole picture rather than a series of details.

And then I see it.

A darker, slightly raised piece of grass, with some mushrooms growing in it. It isn't strong, and it isn't obvious, but once you spot it, it's very much there.

"Strange, isn't it?" He says.

As I look at it, everything I know about it comes immediately to mind. All at once, unbidden.

"It's a fairy ring," I say.

"I don’t know what that is."

"You never heard about them when you were a kid?"

"I didn't pay much attention to things as a kid. I can tell you a lot about TV at the time, but not things I was told."

"They're supposedly planted by fairies. They're how they travel between their world and ours. And if you get trapped by one..."

He looks concerned all of a suddden, and I almost kick myself. "What?"

"...I don't remember. There's something though." Don't tell him about the dancing, I think.

“You know we’re both talking seriously about this, don’t you?” He asks me.

“Are we?”

“Well, I am,” he says. “I know it sounds stupid, but I am. I’m not ruling anything out. Whatever it takes to find Andrea… or…you know…what happened to her.”

I notice the effort he takes to stop his voice cracking. “Then we’re taking this seriously,” I tell him.

“So tell me what it is that happens.”

I take a moment before I do. “They’re traps. By the fairies. For children. You walk around it three times, or five times, or…whatever. It’s like ‘Bloody Mary’. Or ‘Candyman’. Something like that. You… I don’t know, you’re supposed to say a rhyme or a verse or something, and walk around it before trying to cross it."

"Widdershins." A voice that I don’t recognise says.

"What?" I look around, trying to see where it came from.

"You have to go round it widdershins. Or it doesn’t work." the same voice says.

I look behind me, and it takes me a moment to see him, and once I do, I wonder why I didn't see him earlier, as he's standing right there.

"Jamie!" Jack says, with a look of relief.

He's in his forties, I'd guess, and has dirty blonde hair. He looks smart and scruffy at the same time. He's wearing a white shirt and black tie, but it's loose and looks like he hasn't taken it off in days, and it's covered by an old, battered brown mac. He takes a drag from a cigarette. The smoke swirls around him.

"Hello, squire." Jamie says to me. "Been wondering when you'd finally turn up."

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