George finally found a place to live; a rented place of his own, and a place with the one luxury he'd not seen for the previous twelve months, his own bathroom! Spider web cottage was tiny, so small in fact, there was a danger of falling down the circular staircase should the sleeping occupant venture too far to the edge of the double bed which, after much manoeuvring, had been squeezed onto an undersized mezzanine floor.
It was home however, and a place to gain the much desired privacy so lacking in shared accommodation, especially for a teacher getting on in years.
The cottage sat alongside a small courtyard which nestled behind a row of shops fronting the village high street. Parts of the structure were listed, and according to accounts dated back to the 13th century. It was unclear who or what occupied the original building, but rumours ranged from it once being a farrier's shed to that of a storage room for the illegal manufacture of unauthorised liquor.
None of this was of concern to George as it was home and, he could come and go as he pleased. more importantly, he now had the luxury of lingering for as long as needed in a hot bath, the old cast iron tub gracing the floor of what was probably the most spacious room in the cottage, the bathroom.
The other room, the lounge, carried a small refrigerator and a stove with dodgy heat controls. an unsteady chair and small table, the only other creature comforts, took up the rest of the limited space.
Closer examination of the accommodation gave george some ideas and, after a little thought, the double bed found itself downstairs in what was the lounge, with the solitary chair and table elevated to the mezzanine floor, companions to the newly purchased stereo system. Any chance of falling out of bed and down the metal stairs now eliminated.
He was soon to find out why the tiny cottage was so aptly named spider web cottage. each morning required the delicate task of removing a host of spiders from the bathtub. a glass and piece of hard card acted as rescue materials as he deftly cupped each spider, slid the card under the glass and deposited the bewildered creature in a flower urn outside the front door. how they managed to return each night remained a mystery as a thorough investigation of the small window and adjoining walls betrayed no gaps or cracks.
It wasn't long before george befriended a local pub and would spend pleasant weekend evenings in the company of locals.
On one such friday evening, after consuming a little more than usual of his favourite brew, george ambled home with the welcoming thought of sleeping late into saturday morning.
Bed felt warm and welcoming as he stared through the window at twinkling stars. 'there is a definite chance of a crisp, frosty morning,' he thought as he drifted into a peaceful sleep.
George suddenly woke!
A silver glow painted a single beam of light across george's bed. The moon was up and on such a clear night the outside world shone with crystal brilliance.
At first he was baffled at his sudden awakening, nothing, neither inside or out stirring to warrant the sudden disturbance. The world was at peace!
He was about to roll over and attempt to recall a rather erotic dream when the bathroom door creaked.
He sat up!
'Probably my imagination and the remnants of the earlier liquid intake,' he pondered.
Turning over he fell back under the warmth of the duvet. The door creaked again, this time with a slow prolonged squeak.
George watched, the door now visibly moving back and forth in slow rhythmic swings, the movement reminiscent of a child experiencing its first encounter with a new toy. this was creepy, very creepy. he doubled checked the outside, just in case a breeze now disturbed the world; nothing!
'What the hell, what do you want?' he yelled.
The door stopped moving, he waited; perhaps a physical investigation a good idea, but remaining in bed definitely a safer option.
At first it sounded like a gentle breeze, a whisper, as one might hear when resting in a forest or along a river bank. The breeze increased in tempo, rising to the sound of a strong wind whipping round the corners of a house and then, as george pulled the duvet closer, his eyes white in disbelief and fear, the wind struck gale force, howling and whining round and through the small cottage with a ferocity that could take the whole building with it.
He dared a glance outside, but the world remained peaceful. His eyes were back searching, but for what? Nothing inside the cottage moved, it was just frightening sound, only a terrifying roar echoing its deafening intensions. Nothing in the cottage moved!
'What, who, the bloody hell are you!' George yelled above the roar.
It suddenly stopped, as if responding to his call, and once again the room fell silent, except for one thing, the door, that bloody door, swinging once again. this time however, it eased noisily wider until it stood fully open.
George gasped, uncertain of what would arrive next.
He wasn't to be disappointed! At first he thought it was a dog, a large black one without ears.
As the animal, thing came closer, he saw it wasn't a dog, in fact it wasn't like anything he'd ever seen. the thing, creature, object, he was lost for description, looked like a very large egg and stood about three feet high. it moved towards the bed without visible signs of locomotion and reminded him of a wobbly lump often animated on children's cartoons. this lump was less attractive, greyish blue best describing its colour.
'What the hell are you?' he was yelling again.
The thing didn't respond and moved to the side of the bed.
A sudden change took place, george felt at peace, the fear replaced with an unusual calmness and sense of well being. he felt himself pulled towards the thing and allowed his head to move closer. Did it want him to touch it? He was never to find out, as the gales and roar arrived once again, and, as if taking its leave in the noise, the thing disappeared. with its disappearance, so went the howling sounds, disappearing into the night as the passing train might whistle a fading tune.
He was alone again. the night outside remained the same, ice crystals forming as dawn grew near. the door, the door to the bathroom, it remained open.
The next friday george related his story to the interested patrons. They laughed, taking the opportunity to blame the extra alcohol he'd had that evening.
'So, the story is true!'
They all turned to eye an elderly gentleman tucked in a corner. He nestled a whisky in two wrinkled hands.
'What do you mean alfred?' Peter laughed.
'The child, that boy who disappeared in the early twenty's, some said he was murdered and buried under the cottage.'
This was too much for Graham. 'You don't believe in that rubbish, do you?'
'Let me tell you George, you were used to release the child to the next world.' Alfred took a sip. 'That blob you saw, that was energy!'
'What crap, energy, George was hallucinating!' Peter was back.
'Tell me george, how did you feel when the energy passed on? I mean did you feel good or bad?'
'Quite relaxed, strange really-i actually felt good. Yes good, really good.'
'I rest my case.' the old man grinned, 'you did a service george, they were waiting for you.'
'Who in f's name are they!' graham was getting angry. he gulped the remnants his lager down and slammed the glass on the table. 'Fill er up love, i think i need an escape from this bunch of weirdoes.'
'There will be more george. i can feel it's not over yet.' alfred stuck a glass on the table.
'It's my round.' george was already searching for the money. This was getting interesting.
Story sent in by William Mackenzie