Friday Fictioneers: Hollow Debt

I couldn’t get anywhere when I looked at Madison’s photo prompt for the fictioneers and was going to give it a miss. One more look tonight and suddenly I’d done in in ten minutes. What do you make of the photo? there’s still time to enter, photo by Lura Helmstree

Twenty years since I last saw it and I still clean jumped out of my skin. It had decayed and sunk into the hollow, looking for all the world like some strange mystic fungus. I could still picture how it was back then, each week the flesh got blacker and the rancid stench warned me I was close. He was supposed to be a devil worshipper, so I always wore a cross, and carried garlic when I went to pay the debt for mom. Then one time mom, Aunt May and Aunt Wilma went together and he was never seen again.


Why take the 15 mile way home if you can take the 30?

Otherwise known as Lucid Gypsy rambling.

Last evening I went out with two of my closest friends. It’s a monthly event, we take turns driving, so that in theory two of us can have a couple of drinks, but actually we don’t drink much alcohol at all, it’s more about the chat and something to eat in a country pub. Two of us live about four miles apart and the other one lives fifteen miles away out in the sticks, and has done for around ten years. Jackie, the friend who lives nearest to me drove last night and sadly she doesn’t have the best sense of direction. Despite having been to Buckerell some 70 or 80 times she needs directions, but really its one straight main road, the A30, and then four miles up a narrow winding lane. We had a great evening with lots of fun, silliness and too many peas. After dropping Sonja home, we headed back down the lane, gabbling away and after a couple of – turn left – straight up – yes take the slip road, we were safely back on the A30 with twelve miles to go. This is the point where I stop thinking about giving directions and ask instead about her planned weekend in Spain. Mistake.

‘Is this the right way, I don’t recognise it?’

I sit bolt upright, ‘Um no this is the Exmouth road, you’d better turn around and head back to the roundabout, take the slip road back again.’

‘Is this the way?’

I should mention that if I’m driving I wear glasses, without them, in the dark I can’t see well enough to drive in unlit areas. ‘Um, I don’t know but it’s the right general direction, I think it said Rockbeare . . . yep this is the old road, Rockbeare Straights, we came this way once before.’

We drive about five miles. Road works, road ahead closed. We slow down, the road is empty except for the guys resurfacing, and Jackie sees the sign for Sowton Village.

‘Oh that way is okay we can get to Frog Lane from there and then Clyst St Mary’ she said.

‘Sowton is a dead end, I’ve walked across the cow fields to Clyst St Mary but there’s no road.’

‘Yeah there is, there must be’ she was adamant.

‘All right go for it,’ we drive through a silent village, its 11.30 by now and Jackie heads confidently towards a no through road sign. ‘That’s the way to the fields, bear right and try that, but I don’t know where it leads. The single track becomes a grassy track then meets a fence. We can see the lights of the motorway two miles from home just ahead, buts there’s no way through. A difficult fifteen point turn and we head back the lane, to the road workers who give us directions, complex ones that would work if I could read the signs.But we think we get it, and realise that another car who also asked the way, is convinced that we know where we are and is following us. Turn right at the pub they said, then double back towards the  Daisy Mount junction, well it might have been the pub but it was all closed up and it was too late to take the turning. I started to get my bearings though; we were heading back the old road that led to the airport. Jackie agreed and took over again, this was her territory, just a couple of miles cross country from her house.

‘Aylesbeare, that’s it just up here.’ I didn’t think you needed to go to Aylesbeare to get to the parallel Sidmouth road but I left her to it. And we drive quickly with the other car in pursuit, and no sign of life around for a couple more miles. We approach the village and I squint at a right hand turning sign but friend keeps going. We leave the village behind and start a steady climb. Soon the quiet is broken by the petrol warning alarm, 20 miles of fuel left and we didn’t know the way. I’m just wondering if I have enough phone battery left for the sat nav to work when friend says ‘I wish we had a sat nav . . . what you’ve got it on your phone, why didn’t you try that before?’ to be honest I forget it’s there, I don’t get lost! Unless I’m being driven by Jackie, on the way home from Buckerell.

My suspicions were confirmed, we shouldn’t have gone through Aylesbeare, but if we had turned right there, we wouldn’t now be heading for Ottery St Mary. But if this lane reached the common, it would be creepy especially with someone following us, but we should then be able to turn right.

YES! Sidmouth road and we limped to a petrol station. After a – diversion – of about 15 miles, we got to my house having taken an hour and a half instead of twenty five minutes.

Lessons learnt.

Always take my glasses even if I’m not driving.

Never think I need not concentrate on the road myself if Jackie is driving me anywhere after dark.

Remember my phone has a sat nav and take my charger so I can use it.

I have a stranger sense of humour than I realised, most people wouldn’t think it was a huge hilarious adventure getting lost in the deep east Devon lanes at midnight, with not even moonlight to guide us.