Long Shadows

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Old sins cast long shadows, it is said.

But how many centuries can they lay dormant, festering, and polluting, before they are awakened and laid to rest?

In the borderland between Wales and England, where the veil between the worlds is thin and intrusion from the otherworld is commonplace, time has no meaning and the boundaries between past and present are blurred into insignificance.

Restless spirits abound where one country fades into another, feeding the region’s folklore with tales of despair and revenge, love and loss, grief and tragedy. Seldom is there found such a tale that ends happily ever after, born in times past when skirmishes and pitched battles for freedom were a part of daily life and border people were never quite sure where their allegiances should lie; their survival often dependant on the whim of the victor.




Geraint Meredith was sweating like a whore in chapel.

He wanted to put it down to the exertion of swinging his pick at the cellar floor and being fat, over fifty and well past his sell by date. But this wasn’t the warm honest sweat of hard labour; this was the cold, clammy, creeping, crawling sweat of unfathomable dread.

He was used to hacking away at rock, having been a miner man and boy until successive governments had choked the life out of Wales by shutting its pits.  It was then he had left the desperation of the Rhondda Valley to become mine host at The Black Mountain Inn, in more affluent Monmouthshire. Megan’s old man had conveniently gasped his last and left them ‘comfortable see’.

Between the old Hereford road from Monmouth and the Abergavenny to Hereford road, The Black Mountain Inn had stood since the end of the eleventh century. Originally it had stood on a carriage road now long since eaten up by Brookstone Woods. Now it was off the beaten track, with no passing trade but supported by locals and those souls that knew of its location, just a quarter of a mile down a lane from the tiny hamlet of Brookstone.

It had been good at the start, Megan seemed finally happy after God knew how many years. Then she wasn’t happy in the bar, she wasn’t happy in the kitchen, and eventually she wasn’t happy in his bed. Finally she wasn’t happy with the poor sod she’d skipped off to Spain with, leaving him with the pub and its debts.

And now the pub was dying too.

The fat cat bastards that ran the country talked endlessly of fiscal challenges, credit crunch and double dip recessions, but he knew what they really meant: the country was buggered and he was already seeing how that translated to his takings over the bar. His plan was to extend the cellar and bring in some of those expensive real ales that might attract the Incomers with their BMWs and posh totty.

But Dai Morgan, Dai Bricks to the locals because of his small building business, had quoted him a stupid price therefore making it a DIY job. The truth was that Dai had less desire to be down in that part of his cellar than he did. Mental note to Dai – Fuck you!

The sweating increased and his sparse greying hair was slicked to his head, his shirt was sticking to his back where the cold rivulets of fear were running down his spine and his round framed spectacles were slipping down his nose. As his pick connected with the floor one more time, the tip disappeared into a void below and a rush of foul air knocked him back.Bloody marvellous, he’d hit on an old stagnant well or something.

As icy fingers closed around his heart and his bowels turned liquid, he knew it was the ‘something’. There was  bile in his throat and his brain was telling him to leg it back up the stairs into the bar and forget the whole thing, but there was a compulsion that he couldn’t comprehend that made him continue to shovel the covering soil and rotten shoring timbers until the entire ‘something’ was exposed.

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