A BCV Halloween Story
The following is an account of a long lost task, the location will remain a secret to protect the curious from meeting their fate before their time, as too the names and personalities of those involved these have been changed to protect their dignity.
The day was grey and damp, the dark clouds were broken only by the pale disk of a false sun that cast no light and no warmth. It was a forgotten woodland and its trees’ branches reached upwards like skeletal fingers grasping as if for Heaven’s forgiveness. Along the wood’s only track came a group of figures, 13 in total, walking slowly and followed by a Land Rover pulling a trailer full of tools and implements needed on the day’s task: bow saws, chain saw, axes, loppers, a long-handled pruning saw, and a winch. Upon reaching a clearing the group stopped.
From out of the distance could be heard the faint rumble of a coming storm.
“Right,” said Rock, “Before we get on just a few words. As you know a number of conservation groups have vanished over the last few years, many of them we’d worked with in the past. No one knows what happened to them, volunteers just vanished leaving nothing but their tools and brew kits. So, in remembrance of these missing groups we’ll have a minute’s silence.”
One by one the assembled group doffed their hats and folded their hands: Rock, Tim, Cecilia, Kenny, June, Joan, Pete, Phil, Carlton, Catriona, Adrian, Em, and Kath. A long minute passed, the only sounds being that of branches creaking in the chill, damp air.
“Right,” said Tim, impatient to get the work done, “Let’s get started, forecast is for bad weather so we want to be in the pub before it arrives. We’ll be crown lifting and doing a bit of felling, the trees have been marked so they’re easy to find. Also, it looks like someone has dug a new pond in an open area a couple of hundred yards or so that way,” he pointed randomly, “There’s no water in it but be careful not to fall in, it’s a bit deep for some reason. Another also, don’t get too close to the chain saw, we don’t want any accidents.”
The volunteers picked out their tool of choice from the back of the trailer and separated out in to the woods to begin work. Over the next couple of hours could be heard the intermittent thrum of Tim’s chain saw, the creak and thud of branches as they were cut down, and the odd shout or expletive when untoward things happened.
Adrian, June and Joan stayed near the Land Rover cutting up branches and making a dead hedge.
“Joan?” said June, “I’m going to wander off and find a quiet place.”
“You mean a natural convenience?” said Joan
“Yes, one of those.”
“Be careful out there,” quipped Adrian in a spooky voice, “These woods have a bit of a reputation for being haunted, odd things happen here,” he then laughed ghoulishly.
“Thanks for that, you’ve not made made me worried at all now,” said June, “Joan will you come with me?”
A couple of dead leaves fell from the near bare branches above, Joan brushed them from her short brown hair.
“I suppose so. Adrian, don’t mess up the dead hedge.”
The two walked off into the wood leaving Adrian on his own. With nothing better to do he poured himself some herbal tea and sat down under a tree.
“Mess up the dead hedge. As if.”
Time passed and Adrian sat warming his hands on his tea filled cup. The woods had become quite except for the creaking of tree branches and the whispering of dead leaves. It was a bit too quite, something felt wrong but Adrian couldn’t figure out what. From nearby he heard something shuffling, something sneaking towards him stealthily. From behind the Land Rover came Kenny.
“Adrian,” said Kenny. “Have you seen Rock and Tim I’ve trying to find them to get a few photos?”
“No, no idea. June and Joan wandered off a few minutes.. er, half an hour ago maybe they’ve seen them,” replied Adrian.
“It’s really weird, I can’t seem to find any one except Phil and Em near that pond Tim mentioned, that was a while ago. They were having a cup of tea, so nothing worth photographing.”
There was a faint whirring of the chain saw coming from deeper in the mirky woods.
“Maybe that’s Tim. I’m going to wander about a bit more maybe I’ll run in to him. Can you stay here in case anyone comes back?” With that Kenny disappeared into the woods.
“Yes, sure,” Adrian said wearily to the empty air and sipped more tea, by now gone cold; he threw it away and poured some more.
There was a low growl of thunder, the storm was inexorably getting closer. More time passed and no one else came back. It’s passed dinner time, where is everyone? thought Adrian. Maybe it would be a good idea to get up and go in search of the rest of the group. Instead, feeling a bit drowsy he leaned back in the hollow of a gently creaking tree and fell asleep. As he slept, he dreamt. In the dream he could hear someone humming Riders On The Storm close by, then came a deep throaty growl, a sudden thud, and a dark shadow passed by; the humming stopped.
When Adrian woke there was something different. It took him a moment to realise that the Land Rover and trailer had gone. Had everyone gone home and left him behind? No, they wouldn’t do that would they.. would they? It was getting darker, rain was starting to fall and storm clouds were closing in. He had to try to find someone but where were they? The Land Rover had left ruts in the muddy ground, the tracks led deeper into the woods; Adrian decided to follow them.
Some time later Adrian came to a strange sight. The Land Rover was parked near a mound of earth and the trailer had been tipped up so that it was standing vertically with it’s tailgate flat against the ground and the towing hitch pointing skywards. From where he stood he could only see the trailer’s underside, two logs had been braced against its axle to keep it upright. The group’s winch was attached to a nearby tree. It looked as if the winch had been used to pull the trailer vertical. Why someone would do this was totally beyond Adrian’s comprehension.
From behind the trailer walked Emily Blandman, humming Thunderstruck and wiping the blade of her axe.
“Em, thank God, where have you been? Have you seen the others? There’s something really weird going on.”
“Adrian,” said Em with a mix of surprise and embarrassment. She glanced at the bed of the trailer, “er.. I’ve been busy doing a bit of snedding and my axe got stuck and I cut myself. Nothing to worry about.”
By this point Adrian had seen something behind the mound of earth that froze him in horror.
“Ahh..,” said Em, “You weren’t really supposed to see that yet. I thought the herbal tea would keep you asleep for a bit longer, I drugged it when you were talking to Kenny. It was touch and go when I drove the Landy past you though, so I shouldn’t be surprised that you woke up. You know, I dug that pit earlier in the week, but I still don’t think it’s deep enough.”
Adrian stood staring at the ghastly sight before him. The purpose of the mystery pond was now apparent. It had been filled with the dismembered remains of the other volunteers.
“You killed them, OMG you’ve even killed Kenny.. you… Blandman?”
“Yes, he was taking photos of my work so I had no choice. He was annoying anyway.”
Beneath Kenny Adrian could see other bodies and body parts, all dismembered.
“Is everyone in there?” gasped Adrian, “Why?”
“Well.. yes, or at least most of what’s left of everyone. I drugged them all first, I was very humane. No one suffered.. except maybe Kenny.”
Adrian stared at the pit, his arms hanging limp, “I though you were a vegetarian?”
Emily sighed and said, “I’m chopping them up not eating them. I have some principles. Come with me, I’ll explain on the way.” She pointed towards the trailer with her axe, “We’ll need to hurry though, the storm’s nearly here,”
As they walked towards the trailer Blandman spoke, “I’m not who you think I am. For a start my name isn’t Emily Blandman. For many years I worked for Megachem, I was their chief scientist. They developed all kinds of nasty things which I won’t bore you with. I disagreed with the path they were taking, I wanted to use our discoveries to benefit the environment and bring wildlife back from the brink of extinction. During my researches I came across the work of a man named West who was based at the Miskatonic University the 1900s. He developed what I decided to call the Elixir, the less enlightened called it the Demon Seed, and it can… well it would be easier to just show you.”
The two of them walked around to the front of the trailer and for the second time that day Adrian froze in horror.
“When it was discovered what I was doing I was fired and thrown out of the building, shareholders weren’t happy apparently, but I managed to sneak out the a vial of Elixir and I have been working independently ever since.”
They had reached the upended trailer; Adrian fell to his knees.
“You see, with the Elixir I can rebuild flesh in whatever way suits my purpose. My real name, by the way, is Fran K. Enstine.”
The creature stood strapped to the bed of the trailer, a patchwork of limbs and skin.
“This is NGOR-MAN, Next Generation Organic Restoration Manager, pronounced Norman, and he is the future of conservation. A super hero for re-wilding.” Enstine dropped her axe and took hold of the long-handled pruning saw that was leaning against the trailer and used it to point out the creatures attributes:
“Large feet for stability and thick legs for balance, good for uneven terrain; agile hands and strong arms, good for planting wild flowers or cutting down trees. The arms are also multi-jointed and are extensible, they unfold in order to reach higher branches, or for putting up bird boxes; he has teeth, jaws and a digestive system that can eat any invasive species; his skin is double layered to deflect thorns, excellent for hedge laying. His head is a bit misshapen but it does hold several brains containing all of BCV’s conservation knowledge.”
From her pocket she removed the almost empty bottle of Elixir, “See this, my greatest achievement. This liquid not only helps to stitch flesh back together but can also reanimate it,” there was a peal of thunder, “With the help of a few hundred thousand volts.” More thunder crackled above and rain started to fall more heavily, the storm clouds were almost directly overhead. “Nearly time.”
Enstine continued, “I’ve always enjoyed working with BCV; it was always greater than the sum of its parts, now literally so. I tried this a few times before but something always went wrong.”
“The missing groups,” gasped Adrian.
“Yes, them. All that work for nothing.”
“Anyway, there’s just one thing left.. successful environmentalists all tend to have ponytails, which is why I saved you until last. I’d use mine but it’s the wrong colour. Nothing personal. “
“Your mad! Your not human!” screamed Adrian.
“Humanity has a lot to answer for, so I’ll take that as a compliment.” Enstine removed Adrian’s head with a single stroke of the pruning saw. She then scalped her victim with her axe and attached the grisly piece of skin to the creatures head. She used the last few drops of Elixir along the line where flesh met flesh and the ragged edge of scalp immediately fused to the creature’s grey skin. Tugging NGOR-MAN’s hair once she whispered, “Happy birthday,” and threw the empty vial into the pit.
Lightning flashed, illuminating the clouds, and harsh thunder echoed across the sky. As the wind and rain whipped through woods, Enstine extended the pruning saw’s handle to maximum length and attached it to the trailers towing hitch, a lightning rod. All was ready.
It was only a matter of minutes until it came, a devastating bolt of energy screamed from the sky with the voice of a god, striking the pruning saw and turning it to a spray of molten metal, travelling trough the trailer, bursting its tyres and filling the air with the stench of burning rubber. The energy passed into the creature’s body making it shake and convulsed, arching forwards and falling back several times before slumping against the trailer’s upright bed. Steam drifting from its flesh, the straps that had held it in place crumbling to dust.
As the thunder echoed in to silence, Fran Kelly Enstine stood expectantly, her eyes riveted on the creature, looking for signs of success. Slowly movement came, a twitch of a finger, the flutter of an eyelid. The creature took its first ragged, tortured breath and opened its pale eyes.
“It’s alive, IT LIVES!!!” cried Enstine, “Speak NGOR-MAN, share your knowledge with the world! Let us do great things together.”
The creature stood upright, breathed deep, and with voice that seemed to emanate from the depths of the Earth roared, “JAFFA CAKE!”
Enstine’s shoulders slumped, she dropped to her knees, put her head in her hands and groaned, “Oh no, not this again.”
Disclaimer: This is a work of slightly over long fiction and any similarity between this and events and entities in the real world (as if) is either an amazing co-incidence or the product of a very warped mind.