With a roar, the revenant crawled out from under the ground he was buried in, exuding such sounds as those that had terrified the villagers before, causing a slamming shut of windows and doors in all of the cottages closest to the Abbey and the graveyard, with whispers spreading quickly through the alleys and street, causing a general bustling of women and children into back rooms, behind locked doors. Bishop Gilbert stopped short at the sound in mid-prayer and sighed heavily, crossed himself, and rose slowly to his swollen, old feet. Sighing again, he tottered towards the shelves stocked with bottles of holy water, muttering, "is there no justice, then, in the afterlife, Lord? Why must your pious and good sheep be tormented by creatures such as these?" Standing in a shaft of moonlight, he took down several vials of the blessed water, blessed them again, and moved with care towards the workroom off the rectory to combine his only weapon from the small vials it was bottled in to larger receptacles. He knew from experience that it would take more than a few drops of the precious stuff to hold the monster at bay, and aging though he was, he was the greatest ally his flock had against an enemy such as this. The last time it came, it took too many of them with it down into whatever depths of hell from which it emerged. He was loathe to lose any more of them.
Jack was dozing before his hearth after a hot meal, his feet stretched out towards the flames, his pipe smoldering in his hand, when his dog, Neville, sensed a fluctuation in the rhythms of the night-time sounds that usually accompanied their sleepy little village's evening routine, and issued a low moan to alert his master to the possibility of danger. Jack opened his sleepy eyes to glance down at Neville, whose head was turned towards the door, his ears engaged to pick up the slight sounds out of the range of Jack's own hearing, but registered nothing out of the ordinary, and dismissed the dog's seeming concern, merely shifting in his chair to maximize his comfort. When a bellowing roar reached his ears a moment later, he was on his feet just as fast as Neville, whose hackles were up, his snout lowered, a low and dangerous growl issuing from his throat, between barred teeth. Jack already had his gun in his hand, then looked at it, put it down, and went outside for his shovel, went back inside for his gun, and looked from one to the other, trying to decide which would be more useful, whether he should bring them both, or if one would get in the way of using the other should the need for one arise over and above the need for the other. He settled for both, and calling Neville to him, strode to the village green with a steely expression in his eyes, and a curse on his lips. "Not tonight, ye Devil. Tonight I'll rip yer heart out with me bare hands rather then see ye claim one more innocent life. Not one more, ye hear me, ye rotting corpse? For what ye did to me Mary, I'll have yer head on a spike outside my door for a notice to any more like ye that wants to come moaning around my door again - you hear me, ye bloody Devil?" He was shouting now - "ye hear me?!"
On the green, he was met by several other grim-faced men, similarly armed with guns and shovels, also muttering curses and vengeful epithets. Several of them clapped him on the back as he joined them, grumbling "Jack...there ye are, man, I knew ye'd be here...evening, Jack, we're ready this time, eh...come on, then, Jackie-boy, let's get 'em." A shout went up as a shadowy figure limped towards them out of the dark, but a calm voice assured them all quickly that it was none other than their beloved Bishop Gilbert, and several rough hands reached out to steady the old man as he panted his way into the circle of their safety.
"Good evening, gentlemen...thank you, Richard, I don't mind leaning on you a bit, son, I came as fast as I could after I heard the first indications that we would be visited again tonight by that creature of the dark...how many are here? Looks like most of you...that's good, but please, we don't want to risk too many, you are all too important to me to lose even one!" The elderly bishop stopped to catch his breath, as another ungodly roar pierced the darkness around the men assembled together in the center of their beloved village...
"Ok, stop right there," said the lanky woman in the red dress that everyone in the class was buzzing about being from some network or other. "Thank you all for reading your story ideas for me today, there were some really good hooks in the batch, well done. I can say with 98% certainty that my network would be willing to offer to produce a pilot episode of several of them, but I'm out of time for today, and I'm seriously considering this one about the guy and his dog going out to fight some creature with the priest," she said, pointing vaguely in the direction of the young author who had just read his work to her, while staring off at some indistinct point in space as if she were already framing the storyboard in her mind's eye, and tallying up set design and costuming costs. "Would you be willing to give me a copy to take back to my people? I'm that interested..." she said, looking directly at the pudgy student turning red before her outstretched hand.
Glancing shyly at his professor, Neville saw that she was smiling her encouragement the way she did when he shrank from the praise he found heaped upon him in these uncomfortable, public settings, and squeaked out a small noise that was meant to be a 'yes', but sounded like he had stepped on a mouse, so he nodded his assent as well, to be sure that he was clear in his acceptance of her offer. Luckily, Ms. Burton stepped forward to help him out in his moment of extreme fear, and smoothly took the manuscript from his shaking hand, addressing the whole class in general, him in particular, as well as the network woman, "I can run off a quick copy in my office while you all get ready for your next class. Ok, Neville?" Her warm smile reminded him to breathe again, and he nodded back while taking a deep gulp of air. "Fine," she said with a wink, "Come on, Sylvia, we can chat quickly about what a talented group I've got this year while it prints - it won't take more than a few minutes..." Ms. Burton and her network friend clicked out of the room and down the hall on their high heels, chatting like the old friends they were, as Neville did his best to respire, in and out, before he did something stupid, like throw up.
* the words took me on an interesting journey in the form of the story, but I couldn't figure out how to work in the word 'pilot'. my kid gave me the idea to end it the way I did - he said it sounded like a tv show, and that in my story, someone could turn on their tv, and say, "I don't like this show", and turn it off! : )
come play along at: