The Horror of Craigai by Wentworth M Johnson

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The Horror of Craigai

by Wentworth M Johnson

Chapter 1

From Outer Space

Horror is usually in the eyes of the beholder. If it’s unknown and unseen, how can it be so horrible? Perhaps that which lurks in the dark is only frightening because it is unseen. Late in the year 1435 Father Markus of the Benedictine monastery in the border Fenlands of Lincolnshire observed what he took to be a star that fell from the heavens. In his diary he recorded its falling and only a few days later he recorded that God recalled the star and the good father was fortunate enough to witness its return to the heavens. A friar at Abbs Head Abbey in Scotland recorded a similar event in 1540, though this time there was never a mention of the star being recalled. White Horse Farm stands a considerable distance from the main road at the end of a long private drive only a stone’s throw from the ancient city of Peterborough. The establishment consisted of a huge Victorian house with six outbuildings and 150 acres of good arable land. Geese were running free in the yard and would not permit Hiram Kawalski to leave his car. Every time he attempted to get out of the vehicle, the birds would hiss and raise their wings and make as if to attack him. Knowing nothing about farms and their animals Hiram decided to sit tight and await rescue. After some time a young lad of about twenty came to help him and without difficulty the boy shooed the geese away.

“Wha’s up, mate?” he asked in his quaint accent.

“I’m from Technowonder Magazine,” Hiram replied. “I’m here to see John Skullings.”

“You a Yank?” the lad asked, blinking as though he had difficulty seeing.

“No, I’m a Canadian. Could you tell me where I could find John Skullings?”

“Right yah’ are, mate. It’s me. I called yah, didn’t I.”

Hiram wound up the window and climbed from the car. “You’re the one who phoned the mag about a UFO sighting?”

The boy had the appearance of being simple: deep-set eyes and Neanderthal forehead and a predisposition to blinking. He constantly swayed from foot to foot as though his feet bothered him in some way.

With his eyes downcast he said, “I saw it, didn’t I.” He acted almost bashfully as if ashamed of seeing whatever it was that he claimed to have witnessed.

“Well, I get lots of these reports from all over the place. Could you tell me a bit about it?”

The boy began walking. “Follo’ me, mate. Wuz in the north meado’ when I seed it, didn’t I?”

“What’d it look like?” Hiram asked, following the lad.

After so vicious an attack the geese seemed to be satisfied with their alarm call and retired to a safe distance. John Skullings stopped walking and pulled a facial contortion then raked his nose out with his index finger.

“Bloody big, weren’t it?” he said and began walking again.

“How big is that?” Hiram asked, trying to make some sense of the affair. “Can you describe it to me?”

“It were big and round. It made a noise like, like ...” he stopped again and scratched his head. “Well, sort o’ like a’ old-fashioned thresher, didn’t it.”

Hiram had no idea what that may have sounded like but the boy followed his description with an oral imitation. “Great,” Hiram said, trying to humour the obviously demented farm lad.

“Come on,” John encouraged. “Not far now, I’ll show yo’ where it landed.”

They climbed a fence and walked into a pasture. Almost halfway across the field the lad stopped, looked around, pretending not to know the exact location. After a few facial contortions he supposedly recalled the event quite clearly.

“Well?” Hiram encouraged.

“Over there, mate. I wuz about ‘ere, weren’t I. When it came down over there, like. I could see the little fat green man as ‘e climbed out o’ ‘is ship down this ramp-like thing. ‘ad a sort of test thing in ‘is ‘and. I reckon I must o’ frit ‘em, cos they lit out when the little chap saw me, didn’t ‘e.”

They walked over to the exact spot as indicated by John. There were three indentations and alternately three large circular burn marks.

“It was round like a flying saucer?” Hiram questioned, noting that the indentations and burns described a circle of some 16 or so metres in diameter.

“Yah, it were a flying saucer from another world, weren’t it.”

“Sure,” Hiram said, trying not to sound bored with this obvious deception. “I’ll have to go back to my car and get some equipment to take measurements, you see.”

“What ya’ gonna measure?”

“Oh, it’s just routine. We always take measurements. It helps confirm the reality of the situation. You’ll have to come with me; I don’t like those geese of yours.”

The two slowly walked back to the car and John again chased the geese away. Hiram collected his bag of bits from the rear seat of the car. Walking back, John explained how he had seen the flying saucer several times, but the last time was the one when it actually landed.

Back at the site of the alleged landing Hiram took three readings of the soil with his densitometer, then took two readings in each of the depressions.

“What you do that for?” John asked.

“It measures stress in the ground,” Hiram answered in a bored tone of voice. “If I check it against the chart I have, it will tell us how heavy the spaceship was.” While the lad was not watching, Hiram scooped some of the burned grass and soil in a small sample bottle for later analysis.

“So, what’s the result, mate?” John said.

“Well, you’ll be able to read about it in our magazine. I would like to take some photographs of the area if I may.” “Great, in’t it.”

Hiram quickly took pictures of the overall area, a close-up of one of the burn marks and a picture of John and a couple more of the surrounding area. His day had been long and very boring with the flying-saucer incident obviously a fake. Hiram was the first to reach home that evening. Barbara, his live-in girlfriend, had found an interesting story and consequently, arrived home much later. They both worked for the same magazine, a sort of monthly newspaper dealing with the almost scientific. As usual Hiram cooked supper for both of them and the meal passed in near silence. Neither talked about their job, as it was almost always the same old thing.

First thing Tuesday, Hiram took his film to the chemist next door to where he worked. They would also do his soil samples for him. Barbara departed on one assignment and Hiram on another.

Hiram Kawalski never believed in extraterrestrials, devils, demons, ghosts, goblins or any of that ilk, until ... Well ... it wasn’t an “until”, you could say it was more of a gradual conversion, a slow but sure unveiling of the truth. Hiram had always been a sceptic of just about everything that is not presented as pure black and white or simplistically straightforward. Not just UFOs and such but everything – everything in life. At an early age he reasoned that with diligent investigation and an open mind there would always be a logical explanation that followed – you just had to dig deep enough. Invariably hocus-pocus mysteries were the work of someone with an axe to grind, such as writing a book, or they were the leader of some way-out group or cult, or they were just plain crazy. At least to Hiram this is how it always appeared.

“You only have to think about it,” he would say. “Like why would an intelligent alien living on a perfectly good world, spend a fortune to come and risk its life on Earth? Exactly, they would not. Then of course there are ghosts and stuff, which obviously are the invention of a weak or confused mind. There are no ghosts, or spirits; things invisible do not exist. If there were such things then the graveyards would be crowded, but they are not. Are they?”

Hammy, as Hiram Kawalski is known to his friends, was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. At an early age he worked for a tabloid in Toronto. He commuted the 70 kilometres each way, every day, to and from work. Eventually he moved to bigger things and got a job in the USA. Same kind of operation, but as a reporter’s assistant. It was in this job he learned to lie and cheat and invent newsworthy copy.

Inevitably Hammy got fired and to completely turn over a new leaf he moved to England. At least there he could get a clean, new start. As very few Englishmen can tell the difference between American and Canadian accents, he constantly had to reinforce his birthright. However, a person does as a person is. The blacksmith would not take up needlepoint as the leopard would not change its spots, so condemned by the rut of life he found a job at a magazine in the city of Leicester. The magazine called itself Technowonder. It was designed to appeal to the borderline crowd in pseudo-science. He would report on ufology and any technical marvel, whether it worked or not, whether it was true or not, just so long as it made interesting reading.

At the age of 35 and after five years of diligent reporting on the technical nether regions of science he had been promoted to leading reporter. His junior was the female he cohabited with, Barbara Daniels, a 32-year-old brown-haired, blue-eyed beauty. Barbara stood 150 centimetres tall, only 6 centimetres shorter than Hiram. Life was dull for a non-believer and Hammy felt that the stories he worked on were juvenile and totally unfulfilling; he needed something with danger and excitement.