A Samhainn TalebySouthCoastSurfer©
The storm arrives without warning and lasts for a month. There are no weather forecasts to precede it, nor are there any records in the history books of a previous occurrence. It is simply there when yesterday it was not.
I awake with a cry, hauling myself gasping from the dream. For a fleeting second I can still feel the burning, fetid weight on top of me, the long claws pinning my flesh and the choking grasp of his hands at my throat. But then the sensation subsides, leaving me with nothing but the last throes of my orgasm and the faintest scent of cinnamon as a reminder.
In the distance I can hear the ocean. Huge, dark, waves rolling into shore and booming onto the frozen beach. The howling wind whipping the spray up and into the town, sea water and rain driving against the dark glass of my bedroom window.
I let out a long exhalation and flop back down on to the bed, trying to get my breathing back under control as Tom stirs beside me.
"Babe?" his voice thick with sleep.
"Yes," I reply, shakily, "Just a dream, go back to sleep"
"Mmm," he says, rolling on to his side, gently stoking my hair. "Another one?"
"Are you okay?"
"Yes, just a little freaked out. God!"
"That's every night for 3 weeks now."
I can feel the sweat cooling on my body as I arch my back and stretch out, the sheet clammy beneath me. My skin still tingles from the power of my orgasm. Surely this isn't normal?
The dreams had come with the storm. Vivid black fantasies of monsters and creatures and witches and horrors but always with that same scent. Cinnamon on a cold winters night. But underneath the scent of something else. The merest hint of spice and beneath it something darker. Almost rotten.
"Probably just wedding nerves."
"Yes, probably" I reply "Go back to sleep. I'm going to go downstairs for some water"
"I'll be fine."
"OK. Try not to be up too long."
I let out a shaky sigh as I straighten to look at my reflection in the bathroom mirror. Pale skin and dark eyes. Long brown hair in disarray. Cold water from the sink still running down my face.
Wedding nerves. My close friends and my mother had all said the same thing when I had confided in them. Just temporary. Marriage is a big deal. A life changing thing. You are at a time of transition in your life Anna and it's just messing with your subconscious That last one from my hippy friend Laura with her new age beliefs. Wedding nerves. Yeah.
I hope they are right but in my mind there is still a seed of doubt. I have never had dreams like these before. Never this...graphic, vivid. Never felt this disconnected and out of control. And then there is The Stranger. The part I haven't confessed to anyone.
The first time I saw him was the night of my first dream. I was in the bar on the crossroads in town, enjoying after work drinks with a couple of work colleagues on a Friday night. Just sharing office gossip and wedding plans. Laughing at Helens online dating stories.
But then something had happened to me. Nothing specific. Just a general feeling of unease. Unsettling. Like the feeling of being watched yet when you look up there is no one there. For some reason I just couldn't seem to shake it off even though I should have been relaxed.
The feeling had only grown stronger with the worsening weather. I can recall my colleagues asking me if I was OK as I grew more and more restless and jumpy as evening turned into night.
I had been talking to my friend Maggie who, at 37, is a little over ten years older than me. She was telling me about her own wedding experience when suddenly she had trailed off in mid sentence, her eyes fixed on something over my left shoulder.
I had turned to see what had distracted her so, and that was when I saw him for the first time. The Stranger.
He was on his own whereas almost everyone else was with partners or friends yet for some reason this was in no way unusual.
There was a magnetic quality about him though. Albeit at the same time I wouldn't have been able to put my finger on just what it was about him that was so striking. He didn't seem to engage in conversation with anyone, nor did he appear to make any attempt at flirtation despite the number of women I saw approach him. There was nothing flashy about him and yet he had a kind of dark brooding quality that just seemed to draw attention.
I couldn't seem to stop myself from looking across at him every chance I got. It wasn't just me either. I honestly don't think there was another woman in that room that wasn't aware of him.
I lost count of the number of women I saw stealing glances at him, even those there with their husbands and boyfriends. I found myself thinking about Tom, my own husband to be. Wishing Tom was there, holding my hand so that I wouldn't be able to look. Wouldn't be so constantly aware of his presence. Wouldn't know exactly where he was in the room and who he was talking to.
As the time grew closer to midnight I even considered approaching him but what would I say? In a little over a month I would be getting married. What reason could I possibly have to approach this stranger?
The decision was taken from me when he stood up. He paused for a moment, calmly surveying the room for one final time as though looking for someone. I don't know why but I found myself holding my breath as I watched him.
As he turned to leave, our eyes met and something happened to me. It was nothing more than a fleeting second of eye contact, the tiniest flicker of a smile touching his lips as he turned and stepped out into the storm.
Before I even had time to consider what I was doing I was out of my chair and halfway across the bar. Not even stopping for my coat and bag as I banged through the door, the driving rain and howl of the wind drowning out the questioning cries of my colleagues behind me.
I had looked all four ways at the crossroads but he was nowhere to be seen. Yet somehow I knew I must go down the hill, towards the beach. I had raced down, the wind wrapping around me like a blanket, the rain plastering my clothes flat to my body in seconds. I paused only to drag my high heels from my stockinged feet before plunging onto the cold wet sand and down, below the high water line.
My senses seemed to return a little then and a certain degree of calm descended upon me. I was aware of the waves, breaking far to my left but I knew they could not reach me in that liminal space between land and sea.
It was also when I caught that scent for the first time. A sweet cinnamon that seemed to draw me along the beach.
I felt no cold or fear despite being soaked to the skin and roaming a deserted beach at midnight. Nothing beyond a sense that what I was doing was completely right.
A number of times I thought I caught glimpses of a dark figure ahead of me, moving higher up the beach but I never caught up with him.
It was only when I crossed the debris at the high water line that the spell passed and I fell to my knees, shivering uncontrollably. Huge spasms wracking my body. I don't know how far I walked but I made it all the way up the hill and home so it must have been pretty far.
Thank god Tom was out with friends when I returned and I didn't have to explain what had happened. I can vaguely recall stripping my wet clothes off and crawling naked into my bed before falling into a fevered, dream filled sleep.
I have seen the stranger 5 or 6 times in waking hours since then, but still we have never spoken. Always across a room or on the other side of a road. Once at a train station. Thankfully I have not been possessed of the same desire to follow him but even if I did, I wonder whether it would even be possible to catch him? To speak to him?
Every night he is in my dreams though. And every night he has me. In ways that I never knew were possible. Sometimes he is alone and sometimes he is not. Sometimes there are other... things. But he is always there. Watching.
The other things scare me. He scares me. What they do to me. What I let them do to me. But I don't want them to stop. Every night is a little more intense than the one before. A little more depraved. A little more real.
But now I can feel the lines blurring. What is real. What is a dream. And I'm scared that something bad is going to happen.
The noise as it steps from the plinth is deafening. Splinters of marble litter the floor around its hooves as it takes a tentative step, it's blind head swivelling jerkily toward me.
I want to run. To turn on my heels and bolt for the doorway but for some reason I can't. Even taking a step backward is like wading through quicksand. It's a statue. How can it possibly be quicker than me? Yet somehow it is.
I know that I have to get away. That I still have a chance at the moment, before it sees me. Impossibly and with a sickening grinding it's head swivels on the stone neck. It's cold, smooth, sightless eyes seeking me.
It is tall, maybe 8 feet of white marble. I don't know what it is supposed to be but it isn't human, though it stands on two legs. A Satyr possibly? A Golem? It has hooves anyway. And a single thick spike on top of it's head.
I can't run. Can't do anything but wait. Frozen in place with fear.
It is grotesque. All the more so as it takes a faltering step toward me. The movement jerky and unnatural. Then another. All the while that awful grinding sound.
I make a whimpering noise. The sound coming deep from my throat. It's not a noise I think I have ever made before.
I try to take a step backwards but He is behind me, his hands on my shoulders. Holding me in place.
I fall to my knees before it as it draws closer, towering over me, watching in terrified fascination as the huge stone appendage between its legs swings slowly upright.
Even though I am trembling with fear, I know what they want from me. Know what is expected. The stone feels cold in my hand. Colder still in my mouth.
I whimper as a huge three fingered claw closes around my neck. Then it twists me around, slamming my head down so hard on the floor that I black out briefly.
When I come round I can feel a sticky trail of blood on my forehead. Can feel my hips being lifted high in one giant stone hand. The other still pinning me to the floor by the back of my neck. I know what's coming and instinctively I raise my hips to ease it's passage. I feel the ice cold marble pressing against me. Surely it's too big? But I am slippery, and open and wet. Ready.
There is a brief, awful moment when I wonder if it is too much but then something gives and it surges hugely up into me, making me cry out. So deep. So cold.
It shafts me slowly. Savouring the feeling of my warm body, stretched almost beyond toleration around its thick stone length.
It is pain. Solid wall to wall pain but beneath it, a tiny dark rivulet of pleasure. I gasp as the cold spreads down through my thighs and up into my belly. The pain lessens, slowly being replaced with a forbidden black joy.
The rhythm is incessant, brutal. I feel my orgasm beginning to build. It bellows behind me. The noise so loud it feels like the very ground beneath me is shaking and I scream as I start to come...
I jerk upright with a horrified cry, eyes wide, heart pounding. It takes me a second to realise where I am. It takes me a moment longer to realise I am not alone. That someone is kneeling at my feet. I gasp, a sudden surge of terror like a fist of ice in my chest before logic kicks in. Just Tom. Just my fiancé Not another monster. Not Him.
Except there is something wrong. He is naked at my feet, his cock standing up thick and erect.
"What are you doing?"
He doesn't reply. Instead he drags the duvet roughly from the bed, flinging it aside. The sudden rush of cold air making my nipples stand up.
"Tom? What...", I gasp, even as he grips the waistband of my knickers and yanks them roughly from my body, almost pulling my hips from the bed with the force of it.
"Don't. You're going to tear them."
He yanks again, finally managing to drag them down to my knees before twisting me roughly over onto my front.
Then his weight is on my back, one hand guiding his hard cock and I gasp as he thrusts hard into me.
I know that I should be outraged but instead I find myself lifting my hips in an effort to take him deeper. Wanting to spread my legs wider but confined by the underwear still caught around my knees.
There is no tenderness to it. No skill. Just hard, relentless sex. Almost the polar opposite of how Tom normally treats me.
But to my shame I like it. I am still hot and excited from the dream and in no time at all I am at the brink of orgasm again. We come at the same time. Him grunting into my neck. Me moaning into the pillow.
Nothing is said. No words spoken. Eventually he rolls off of me and onto his side. His breathing slowly becoming deep and rhythmic. Only when I am sure he is asleep do I tiptoe to the bathroom.
I begin to sob as I sink slowly to the floor. My back against the cold wood of the door. Shoulders shaking. What is happening to me? That wasn't Tom. Kind, generous, loving Tom who is always such a gentlemen. Always treats me with nothing but respect. He would never treat me like that. And yet he had. I can still feel the tell tale wetness between my legs. The tightness in my nipples. What is happening to us?
I am awoken early by the shower. Tom getting ready for work. For a moment it is just a normal day and I am warm and cosy and content. But then the events of the night begin to seep into my consciousness like a dark cloud.
I don't know how to feel. In fact, when I think about it, I don't even really understand how it happened. Did it happen? Or was it just an extension of my dream? I endeavour to ask Tom when he comes back but I am too tired and by the time he returns I am asleep.
Thankfully there are no more dreams but I am awoken by someone banging on my front door. Pounding on it so hard that it rattles in its frame. I am briefly paralysed by fear, stranded as I am in that place between sleep and waking. But then common sense takes over and I roll out of bed.
"Hang on, I'm coming" I cry, frantically dragging clothes on. Pulling my jeans up over my bare rump. My torn knickers discarded on the floor.
By the time I arrive downstairs there is no one there and I am out of breath. I fling the door wide anyway, peering both ways up and down the street. Nothing. Just the wind and a few scraggly looking pigeons that survey me with disinterest.
I close the door again, only then noticing the plain white envelope on the floor.
"Miss Anna Walsh".
I pick it up and pad barefoot to the kitchen. Pour myself coffee. The paper is good quality and when I bring it to my nose and sniff there is the faintest hint of cinnamon and I know it is from Him.
Carefully, I open the envelope. Tipping the contents onto the old oak of the kitchen table. There is a letter and a plain black card inside. Perhaps an invitation of some sort?
The letter is handwritten rather than typed. The writing looping and ornate.
"My dear Miss Walsh,
It is strange to be writing this letter when it feels that I already know you so well. Already know what it is that you desire. What it is that you dream of. What it is that you feel.
Lost. Confused. Seeking answers.
I long to meet you person. To help you. To give you what you need. The answers to your questions. The end to the dreams.
I will help you but you must not inform another living soul. My invitation is for you and you alone and I do not extend it lightly.
I pick up the black card and turn it over in my hand. At first glance it appears to be blank but as I tilt it into the light I can just make out some letters. Black embossed writing on black card. There is not much. Only three words and four numbers: "All Hallows. Allan. 14:54."
I ponder the words as I draw my legs up beneath me. What does it mean? How do I decipher it? Perhaps tellingly, the one thing I don't consider, not even for the briefest second, is whether or not I will go.
My sense of adventure piqued, I turn on my laptop and begin tracking down the meaning of the card. It takes under 10 minutes. All Hallows -- Halloween, which is today. Allan 14:54 can only mean Allan train station. A quick internet search reveals that it is about 4 hours away on a partially abandoned line. Only one of it's four platforms still in use. Only one train a day which, coincidentally, stops there today at exactly 14:54!
I look at the clock, already calculating timings. If I leave now, I might just have time to make it to the station. Might. But it has to be right now. I pause briefly, my only moment of indecision. It feels momentous somehow. Permanent.
But then I am moving. Scooping things into a bag. Toiletries, clothing, phone, purse. I throw a hooded top over my sleeping T shirt. Pull on socks and boots. No time to shower. Throw some underwear into the bag. Still bare beneath the tight denim of my jeans but no time.
I fleetingly consider leaving in a note for Tom but then remember the warning and quickly abandon the idea. I can always call him later.
When I leave the house, the weather seems worse than ever. Barely anyone on the streets or outside and by the time I arrive at the train station and pay for my ticket I am soaking wet and cold.
I board the train with 10 minutes still to spare. There are a few other people in the carriage but not many. No one that catches my eye at any rate.
It is only as I turn to look out of the window as the train pulls away that I see him. The Stranger. A couple of platforms over, watching me. Even the sight of him causes my breath to catch in my throat. A sudden quickening of my pulse.
He smiles at me and I feel a sudden rush of heat between my legs. The feeling amplified by the seam of my jeans biting between my crossed legs as I lean forward, watching him fade away.
It takes almost exactly 4 hours to get to Allan station. I take the time to dry out and try to snooze for a while. When finally we arrive I am the only person to alight and the rest of the platform is deserted.
As I stand alone in the rain, watching the train pull away I fleetingly wonder whether I am right or whether I have misinterpreted the message. There is nothing here. Nothing but gray and wind and rain and a feeling of a place that time has passed on by and left crumbling. Something from an earlier age. Darkness comes quickly. Settling like a blanket over the bleak surrounds of the station.
Once the last of the daylight has faded I hear it. Distant at first. A chuffing noise. A train, but slightly off somehow. Different. Surely it can't be a train? I know that there are no more due today. I checked. Yet still the noise gets louder. It is only when it rounds the bend and pulls slowly in to the station that it becomes apparent.
It is a steam train. A huge, black steam train that has stopped two platforms across from me, running on one of the abandoned lines. I hover for a second and then I am off, legs pumping. Racing for the bridge that will take me over to the correct platform.
When finally I get there, out of breath and panting, there is a door already open. Only the one. There is no sign of another living soul but I step through the door regardless. I have come this far and there is absolutely no way that I am going to spend the night on my own, on Halloween, at a deserted spooky train station. Screw that!
The carriage is devoid of life but it is warm. Plush. All red velvet and mirrors and brass. Like something straight out of a Victorian novel. In lieu of any further instructions I sit down, and, with a blast of its whistle, the train slowly pulls away from the station.