This is my entry in @fireawaymarmot's contest to write a story based on his instrumental song "The Restless Wandering Shade" - click here to hear the tune on Dsound
If you would like to enter, or to find out more about the contest, check out his post: https://steemit.com/contest/@fireawaymarmot/win-sbd-write-from-my-music
The mist lay thick on the ground around me. It's cold tendrils chilled my legs as it climbed them.
It will offer protection, I told myself, looking over my shoulder. If I could not easily see through it, I, myself, could not easily be seen.
Light was fading fast. Day had swiftly metamorphosed into dusk and dusk was now aching to become night. With neither moon, nor stars to keep me on the Old Road, I feared I would lose my way. The trees loomed either side of me, and I knew brigands, robbers and highwaymen waited within the forest.
With what followed me, and what lurked either side of my path, I would be lucky to survive the night. Let alone the long journey that stretched before me.
I heard the creak of the gallows, before I saw them. Three men - or what were once men - swung in large cages, chains suspending them high above the crossroads. I pulled my cloak about me, and made the sign of the cross, shivering from both cold and fear.
It was then I saw him.
At first I thought it a trick of the light - although by this time there was very little of that left. A portion of the mist seemed brighter, lighter in colour. As I watched the mist swirl, before me, it became thicker, fog-like and then something more substantial, as if it was solidifying. Yet, somehow, I knew it was something that could not be touched.
It started to take a form and, to my fear widened eyes, it began to resemble a man. Yet, I knew it was not human.
It moved with nervous, restless, energy, wandering from one side of the crossroads to the other.
There was no way to continue along the road, without approaching the spectre. And I could not turn back, for I knew my pursuers would not be not far behind.
The creature started, as if it had seen me. It appeared to mutter something, although if words were spoken they were immediately swallowed by the night.
“What are you?” I gasped, my heart thumping in my chest.
Words came to me, then, although I could not be certain that they were spoken aloud. Perhaps, they merely appeared in my mind.
“My name is Florian,” came the ghostly whisper. “I am cursed to remain in this spot. Forever, restless, forever wandering from one path to another, unable to choose the road home.”
“What happened, oh spirit?” my breath became one with the mist before me, as I spoke.
“I was falsely accused of theft, my lord,’ said the shade. I could not be certain, but I thought I could see a ghostly tear slide down his cheek. “I was courting a lady, a beautiful young woman. We were in love, and I was preparing to ask for her hand in marriage. But the son of the Lord of the manor wanted her for himself. Believe me, sir, when I tell you she was not in love with him, and had refused his advances, on numerous occasions. He thought that he would win her over if I were not around. So he faked a robbery, sir. He planted a watch about my person, and then accused me of stealing from him. I denied it, of course. But his father was a powerful man, and the word of the son of a Lord will always be believed over that of a blacksmith. I was chased from the town. I was hunted like a fox, sir. Men on horses with dogs, chased me. They caught me on this very spot. The hounds tore into me. And then the men," the ghostly figure paused, as though overcome with emotion. "They murdered me, sir. Here, in cold blood. And then, they hoisted my body into this very cage,” a ghostly digit pointed to the gallows above. “And here I walk, sir. Forever doomed to spend eternity amongst the corpses and spirits of murderers, rapists and robbers.”
I gulped, swallowing my fear.
“Kind sir,” said I, my voice quivering. “I too have been wronged. I also stand accused of a crime I did not commit. The men who pursue me say I stole a ring of great value, and that I killed a man too. I am innocent of these crimes, I swear to you. Will you let me pass? For I fear if they catch me I will suffer the same fate as you.”
The shade stared at me, and for a moment I feared it could see into my very soul.
“Very well,” he said - not before time, for I could hear the hooves of four horses pounding through the mist behind me. He stood aside. “You may pass, sir. Perhaps, through avenging the wrong done to you, I will set myself free.”
I hurried past, tipping my hat, as I went.
“Thank you, kind shade,” I called over my shoulder as I ran as fast as I could.
From behind me I heard shouts, and cries of men and the alarmed whinnying of their horses.
And then, after much screaming, there was a terrible silence.
I smiled and put my hand into the secret pocket of my cloak. I let my fingers close around the large ring, still sticky with the blood of its former owner.
I wondered if the shade would be less restless, now.
Now, it had the company of other innocent men.
Current Serialised Ghost Story: “Haunted”
A family move into a big old house. The house has history. The family have history. Spooky stuff happens.
Part one https://email@example.com/haunted-part-one-an-original-work-of-fiction-for-the-365daysofwriting-challenge
Part seven: https://firstname.lastname@example.org/haunted-part-seven-an-original-work-of-serialised-fiction-for-the-365daysofwriting-challenge
Very short stories (stories told in exactly 50 words)
"Van Diemen's Land"
Crime does pay… if you wanted a one way ticket down under
Miniature Tigers don’t belong in cages. You have been warned.
“The Lion’s Share”.
It is NOT his party, so why is the lion crying?
Some more of my short stories
Will we ever learn?
Some people are meant to be together
Some big news for me! One of my steemit stories (Reunion - told in 8 parts last month) has been selected to appear in the Isle of Write Anthology (see this post https://steemit.com/writing/@isleofwrite/isle-of-write-fiction-publication-week-1-roundup). I am so excited to be a part of this. Please pay them a visit and check out the other stories that have been selected too. You too can be curated: so read the post and find out how!