Spencer smiled at me and stared into the dying campfire ‘I know what happened.’
‘How can you know? I mean, you can’t know for sure. It happened over 70 years ago, you weren’t even born, let alone there!’ My temper was frayed. The whole day had been a complete waste of my time so far.
He laughed nervously, stomped out the remaining embers and said ‘Can I show you something now?’ he walked away from me towards the cave.
‘Well yes, finally.’ I said, taking my Dictaphone out of my pocket for the hundredth time and turning it on ‘That is why we’re here. I don’t understand what’s taken so long. Wouldn’t it have been better to look in daylight?’ I said.
The dark loomed upon us far quicker than I’d have liked once the fire was out. I followed him, slowly. His mannerisms were beginning to make me uneasy, but I was invested in this legend too deeply to back out now.
‘The time is right.’ He whispered ‘It’s this way. Come on, or you’ll get lost.’ He chuckled to himself, walked through the overgrowth and disappeared into the gaping black hole in the side of the cliff.
‘Hold up Spencer.’ I called after him ‘We need to listen for the voices at the entrance before we go in.’ I broke into a jog ‘According to the legend-‘
‘Oh, you’ll hear them, don’t worry.’ He called. His voice echoed off of the cave walls. The grin on his face when he pushed his head back through the fauna unnerved me.
I stopped dead in my tracks. A sudden rush of wind blew leaves up the side of the cliff, pinning the fauna to the white chalk walls. The vines swept inside the cave mouth, like teeth.
Spencer once again vanished into the cave.
A maniacal laugh floated through the breeze. My hair stood on end and a chill ran up my spine. The trees were looming over me; giants suddenly closing in.
I ran into the cave. My body demanding the safety of walls and human contact, like a blanket when you’re small.
Inside the cave was damp, and the floor, covered in wet sand, sucked at my boots.
I came up to him and saw that he was scraping at a rock with his finger nails, making them break and bleed. ‘What in the heavens are you doing?’ I asked in shock.
‘It happened here. It all happened here.’
He carried on scraping, as the noise went through my brain like nails on a chalk board, blood streaming down the rock face. I really didn’t know that fingers could bleed that much.
‘Hey! Stop that dude. Seriously. You’re freaking me out now. What are we actually doing here?’ I put my Dictaphone back into my pocket and turned it off ‘You don’t have anything to show me, do you?’ I grabbed his hand to stop him. Spencer turned and glared at me, his eyes wild like a frightened animal.
I looked down at the blood on the rock. It was dripping through a grate that I hadn’t noticed in the gloom.
‘I’m opening this and we’re escaping. Now, shh! Don’t wake up the others.’ He carried on scraping at the rock.
I realized something was terribly wrong. I patted my pockets to check I had everything.
‘Dude, I’m going to go and get some help.’ I said. I backed out of the cave slowly and when I was far enough away I bolted.
I ran for what seemed like ages in the darkness, tripping over roots and vines in my desperate attempt to get away and find help. No moon lighting my path.
Blind panic was creeping over me as I realized I didn’t know where I was going. My clothing caught on everything, unseen hands grabbing at me.
Fear and panic propelled me forwards. Fog had started to roll in through the dense trees, and I began to wonder how far I had come when I accidently found the road. I was somewhat surprised at my luck, as I didn’t know the area at all.
I stood at the edge of the road in the pitch black of night and prayed for a passing car, scanning the distance for headlights in both directions. Every noise I heard made my panic worse, and then dilute a little as my sensible brain told me it was just an animal. The road was not as busy as I had wished, which was just my luck.
I began to rationalize my situation. Remembering that I had brought a Dictaphone with me I pulled it out of my pocket and started talking.
‘This is Royston Miller, reporting on the strange- what’s that? it’s just an animal, ha! the strange happenings surrounding Spicer Cove and the legend of the pirate Spicer Gains. I have had a very weird night in the company of a local man, Spencer Gains, who claims to be the pirate’s six times great grandson. After waiting-… after waiting all day and most of the night I-‘
I heard a twig snap behind me. Panic leaped from my chest. I turned to see a steel glint racing towards my head.
Scraping noises filtered through my subconscious. I sat up.
‘Ah. You’re awake. How’s the head? Quick. I have it almost open, help me.’
‘What the-‘ I felt a pang and touched my temple. Thick blood coated my hand.
‘We have to open this grate! We have to open this grate!’ Spencer was frantically clawing at the rock.’
What happens when the grate is opened, dude?’ I asked. Tentatively I got to my knees and crawled over to him, the wet sand sucking at my fingers. I sat next to him, and carefully placed my digits through the metal bars of the grate. The blood and skin from his hands covered a large area that I had no intentions of touching.
‘It’s open! I’m free! I’m free!’ He grabbed my shoulders and I dropped the grate, which slid down the side of the rock and made a damp squelch as it landed in the wet sand, and sunk a few inches.
‘Of course you are. Look, what’s-‘ I froze in horror.
‘What’s the matter? I’m free. I can finally go home. Thank you my friend.’ Skeletal hands held me tightly and shook my fear riddled body as he continued to shout ‘I’m free! I’m free! I’m free!’
Spencer’s voice echoed in the cave.
His empty eyes leaked red tears as he stared- no, as two black hollow orifices stared at me. The skin on his decaying corpse slid off like a kanone on the Alps as he continued to shout the same mantra- ‘I’m free. I’m free…’
A putrid stench of rotten flesh, thick and metallic, assaulted my nostrils. Internal screaming rendered me speechless. I broke free of my horror. Repulsive flesh, brown and green, slithered off grey bones. The sound; like a snake over ceramic tiles. Gut wrenching sickness overcame me; I spewed a torrent of lumps and liquid over the decomposing body of Spencer. I wiped my mouth on my sleeve, spreading the sand and blood that was caked on it across my face. It got in my mouth. I spat, gagged, and chucked again. Madness began to descend on my otherwise sane mind. To preserve my sanity my body took over, impulsively I jumped off the rock.
My legs, now numb with cold, failed to catch me. I landed in a mangled pile of repugnant human flesh and bone. Cutlasses protruding from skeletal chests, daggers wedged into eye sockets. Gold coins and jewels were spread across the sand. The more I stared at the grizzly mess I was sat in the more I realised this was the legend, in full on show don’t tell mode.
My stomach was sore from the force, my legs weak. Barely keeping my face above the gore of stinking corpses that stretched on forever, I started crawling on my hands and knees through the mire of blood. A squelching, sticky, dark brownish red ooze coated my body. My hand slipped, my head momentarily dunked in the blood. I motioned to wipe it and saw my hand, it was so densely coated that I had webbed fingers. The loathsome goop stretched and shrunk as I flexed my fingers in transfixed curiosity.
Bird song at the cave maw, a beacon of hope. Using the last of my sanity and will, I stood and propelled my repulsive self towards life. Lurching forward, limping with numb feet, a garbled cry filled my mouth.
I glanced back to where Spencer sat, he was watching me. The same maniacal laughter filled the cave.
His head turned one-eighty. His ear to ear skeletal grin, black as night, was the stuff of nightmares.
‘I’m free, I’m free, I’m free…..’