Sammy slammed the bonnet and gave the ford pickup truck one last boot, denting the side with a thudding echo. Smoke billowed from the exhaust and plumed into the frigid night. She turned to the dales all around her, endlessly dark and indistinct rolling plains hidden under the wan moonlight.
“Perfect,” Sammy shouted, half-snarling, breath turning to mist instantly as she cursed. “Just bloody perfect.”
Shifting around in her leather jacket’s pocket, she checked her mobile phone. The reception bar read zero.
“That is just brilliant. What luck tonight.” She forced a grim smile and took a deep breath to calm her nerves. Sometimes Sammy hated this stretch of road. An hour’s walk from Appletreewick and just a ten minute stroll from Troller’s Gill. It was all silent except for the wind, howling as it sped over her, chilling to the bone.
Appletreewick it is then, she thought. Walking it in bare feet was going to be one hell of a journey and her toes curled uncontrollably under the chilled winter tarmac just thinking of it.
Sammy had only got half a mile, feet hurting miserably before the bright yellow van pulled up beside her, its headlights dim. The shadowed figure inside flicked the light on. A pallid man wearing a tartan cap poked his head out his window. His strong accent was unmistakably Scottish. “You want a ride, lass?”
The stubble of his beard was covered in what looked like dried vomit. His smile revealed a set of rotten brown teeth, the lower front two set apart from the others, stunted and yellowing. “Uhh—yeah, my pickup choked up and just wouldn’t start.”
“Well,” he replied, adjusting his cap and grinning, “get on in, lass. It’s a night to kill a woman like yourself, if you know what I mean?”
“Thank you.” Sammy grimaced at the thought of sitting next to him, but her feet were bleeding and she found herself climbing into the passenger seat without second thought.
The man was dressed in stained overalls but he switched the light off swiftly as she sat down. She was sure it was dark crimson flecks. A painter, she reassured herself mutely. Within seconds, they were on their way to Appletreewick, the van rumbling to a stuttering start.
The man glanced at her, smiling. Now that she was closer, Sammy could smell whisky on his breath. “Can’t get any signal out here on the dales either, can ya?”
She shuffled further into her side of the van, gulping, licking her dry lips. “I know.”
“It’s okay, lass.” He said as he reached over and patted her knee, “you got me now. To be honest, I’m surprised I even saw you with all the crap that’s happened recently.”
Moving even further away, Sammy asked, “Why’s that?”
“The copper’s found three bodies over the weekend out near Troller’s Gill. All mauled as if by a bear. Pretty big mess if you ask me. Scratches, bites, the lot.”
“They did?” She replied, incredulous.
“I drive between Harlington and Appletreewick nearly every night. No one has been across the stretch since then. Bad luck to get stranded here, lass.” He gripped her knee powerfully, dominating, ignoring the need to change gear, feet hard on the accelerator.
“Heh,” he huffed, eyed her up with dusty hazel eyes. “You sure are pretty, lass. Remind me of my daughter.”
The stranger reached over and stroked her cheek with his hand. A cold shock ran through her veins.
“Shit,” Sammy exclaimed, ignoring his touch. She gazed out onto the road as it sped by. Sammy then turned and glared at the man, her amber eyes wrought with hunger. “I’m going to have to find a new place to stash my meals.”
Liam found his passion for writing only a few years ago when he discovered his lust for world creation and plotting. He draws inspiration from old tales from all over the world. For example “Lost in the Dales” is based upon the Yorkshire Barghest. Liam Ford lives deep in Kent, a county just east of London.
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