Gloria has a fright in the woods.
I returned from the off-licence after going on an errand to get my father some tobacco. I looked at my watch; I would have to hurry because the errand made me late.
"That soldier called while you were out," my mother said. "He's left a card or something."
I walked to the mantelpiece and picked up the envelope. Inside was the hastily written invitation to his engagement in London. "He's got a nerve," I said and threw the card into the fireside bin.
"You've only got an ounce," my father said. "I wanted two ounces."
"They only had ounces."
"Well you'll have to go back for another one; an ounce is no fizzing good to me."
"Dad, I'm going out. I'm late as it is. Evelyn can go for you when she gets back from netball, and anyway, you've been told not to smoke I don't know how many times. The doctor will tell you off tomorrow."
"Don't be so fizzing cheeky and get back up the off-licence."
"Leave it, I'll go later," my mother said. "I'll just make a brew first."
I smiled at my mother and walked to the mirror above the fireplace, giving a final check to my hair and make-up.
My father looked over at me. "It's all right, you still look pretty even with that daft hair cut."
I walked across to my father and leaned down to kiss him on his cheek. "Ugh, you've got stubble."
"Never mind about that, you get yourself out; I'm trying to watch the tele." But he smiled at me and as I started to leave he stood up and called out to my mother. "I'm just going up for a shave."
I stood at the corner of the street. I thought maybe he wouldn't turn up; it would be just like him, but it was only seconds later I heard his motorcycle and he was soon pulling up beside me.
"Get on then," Gordy said.
"I'm not really sure about this. Are you sure he'll be there?"
"Of course. I saw him this afternoon and I told him I'd meet him at Minstrels. He's probably there now, waiting for me."
"But he might get funny if he sees me coming in with you. You know what he's like."
"Don't be daft. I know how much he thinks of you, and he knows I know. He'll be well pleased I've got you two back together."
Twenty minutes later we were in the club and I was looking all around, trying to see if Ellis were there. I walked to the bar with Gordy, still looking around, hoping to see Ellis's smiling face as he walked towards me.
"Don't worry, he'll turn up. Even if he's had trouble with his bike, he'll come on the bus, he knows I'm here."
We had a drink, chatted and danced, but I was continually glancing over to the entrance.
I was becoming more depressed and Gordy was becoming more pleased. "Do you want another dance?" he asked.
I looked at him and shook my head. "Come on let's go. It's half eleven, he's obviously not going to come. This isn't one of your devious little plans, is it?"
"He's supposed to meet me here; I don't know why he's not turned up, but if you don't want to stay any longer then I'll get you home. I haven't been that bad, have I?"
I gave a smile. "All right, it's not your fault, thanks for trying anyway." I looked over to the entrance and saw Ellis standing with a girl. He had not seen me, but it looked as if the girl had been waiting for me to look over before she reached up and began a passionate embrace with him.
She broke away from him and looked over in my direction and started grinning while leading Ellis out to the dance floor.
I put on a brave face but I was heartbroken after seeing Ellis with the girl. I followed Gordy out of the club and we set off on his motorcycle. When Gordy turned off at Carver's Lane and rode into the woods, I became concerned. I was calling out to him, but he took no notice. Seconds later he turned onto a path, and stopped the bike beneath a large oak tree.
I got off the pillion seat and began shouting at him. "What the heck do you think you're playing at?"
"I just thought we'd have a bit of a kiss and cuddle. After all I did take you out for the night, didn't I." Gordy leaned his motorcycle against a bush and moved closer to me. I tried to get past him, but he grabbed me around the waist and pushed me back against the tree. He leaned his body into mine and tried to kiss me, but I turned my head away from him.
"Forget it, Gordy. Just take me home, will you?"
He laughed and tried to pull my skirt up, but I shoved his hand away. He tried again, but this time I scored my fingernails against the back of his hand and he backed away from me. "You spiteful bitch," he said, looking at the blood seeping from the deep scratches.
"Come near me again and I'll have your sodding face off."
"What's all this about, Gloria? Ellis told me what you and him get up to; I just want some of it as a thank you for all I've done for you, and it's not as if he's taking you out anymore, is it?"
"I've heard enough of your baloney, just take me home."
"Oh no. No shag no lift. Make your own way home, but watch out for the nutter, he's always around these woods you know."
"You're the only nutter in here."
"Come on, Glor, just a quickie then I'll get you home. What harm is there, it's not like you're still a virgin, is it?" He took a step towards me. I lifted my hand; my nails pointing at him like a cat about to strike.
"All right, all right, maybe another time then. Enjoy the walk." He got on his bike and started the engine.
I shouted at him. "Gordy, you can't leave me here. We've been mates for years, why are you doing this to me?"
Gordy gave a rev of the engine before looking back at me. "When you were a virgin I respected it, but you had it off with Ellis in Blackpool, and like you said, we've been mates for years. So what's wrong with a bit of friendly passion between us?"
"We never did anything in Blackpool, honest, Gordy, I swear we didn't."
"No, you just slept together for the weekend, but nothing happened. Who the hell are you trying to kid?"
"We were camping, we slept in separate tents."
"Separate tents, don't you mean a single bed in a guest house. He's told me all about it, told everyone. Now it's your last chance, are you gonna come across or not?"
"You leave me here, Gordy, and I promise I'll never forgive you."
"I don't care. You want to turn your back on me, then I'll turn my back on you." He looked away and rode off.
I screamed after him. "No, Gordy, come back. Gordy!" After the brightness from Gordy's motorcycle headlight faded into the distance, it became very dark. My fear was immediate and my thoughts were running wild as I stumbled back along the path towards the lane. The moon was like a giant illuminated globe, but the moonlight had difficulty penetrating through the canopy of the trees. I imagined shapes moving to my left, and then to my right, moving silhouettes plucked from the television memories of my childhood; animate shapes like demons, but still as tree trunks when I stared at them. I was becoming more frightened with every step and I cursed Gordy for leaving me as I listened to the distant sound of his motorcycle speeding along the by-pass.
I passed under a large dead tree and glanced up at the oasis of light from the moon, but my imagination was playing tricks, turning the swaying branches into frightening images, like evil claws waiting to plunge down to get me. I strayed slightly from the path and some vines seemed to be wrapping themselves around my ankles. I thought I saw a snake amongst the vines and I gave out a scream and I leapt back onto the path.
The wind picked up and a branch cracked off and fell from the dead tree and crashed to the ground. I rushed on until I got to the lane and I ran into the middle of the road before looking back into the woods where the branch landed. I thought I saw a shape moving and wondered if it actually were something moving or just another trick of the light? I was not sure, but then I thought I could hear some laughter amongst the rustling of the trees. I tried to dismiss it as a trick of my imagination, but it played on my mind and tingles of fear ran up my spine and down my arms as I began to hurry along the road, looking behind after every few steps, feeling as if I were being followed. I suddenly remembered the incident in the shed at home; I felt some kind of presence there and I had that same strange feeling again.
A large creature ran out into the lane some way ahead of me and gave a bright piercing stare as it looked at me. I stopped, not wanting to get any closer. The creature suddenly scampered off into the bushes as if it had also become afraid. Dark shapes began to flicker above me and my terror increased when I looked up and realised they were bats, multiplying in numbers. I started to run. A terrible squealing sound rang through the air, startling me into a muted scream. I stopped and turned around, all the bats had gone, but my frightening ordeal continued as the squealing sound rang out again, this time a lot closer and getting nearer.
A shape was moving above me again, I looked up and saw an owl swooping down at me. I looked down and covered my head, remembering the nature lesson at school when we were told that owls could attack people if they thought there was a risk to their young. I screamed as the owl brushed past my head and I started to run, but my stiletto heels were hindering me. I took my shoes off, almost falling as I tried to hurry on at the same time, but I managed and began sprinting along the middle of the road as fast as I could run. The owl swooped at me again and I stopped and swung my shoe at it as it passed, feeling relieved as I watched it flying off.
It was suddenly quiet, there were no sounds coming from the woods, all I could hear was the distant sound of the occasional car speeding along the by-pass. The silence was just as frightening to me as if something terrible were about to happen. I looked forward along the lane again and was startled when a fox ran out from some bushes no more than ten feet in front of me. I began slowly walking backwards as the fox snarled at me while foaming at its mouth, its head low as it slowly moved towards me. "Go away, go away," I shouted. I always thought myself a strong girl, but I was terrified and began crying as I shouted at the fox, swishing my stiletto heel in front of my legs as I backed away. I heard laughter again, but this time it was more distinctive. It was clearly a girl's laughter and not my imagination. I stumbled on a pothole in the road but managed to regain my balance and I stood alone and petrified, as the laughter got louder and the snarling fox got closer.
I was trembling with fear and in great distress, praying for help. Suddenly the headlights of an approaching car illuminated the darkness. The fox gave one final snarl and then disappeared into the undergrowth. I stood looking at the lights as they got closer. Hoping the driver would help me, but worried in case it was someone to make my nightmare worse. Tears were running down my cheeks, but I stood in complete silence. The car stopped and a door opened. I saw the policeman's uniform as he walked into the light from the headlights.
"What on earth are you doing here?" he said.
I rushed towards him, dropping my shoes before clinging onto him, sobbing.
Earlier, Rosie had kept Gloria in her sight until she left the club with Gordy, pleased that she had gone a good way towards breaking the girl's heart. Now she could concentrate on Ellis. She reached up and whispered into his ear. "Do you fancy going down to Carver's Hollow for a bit of nude bathing?" This was the moment she had planned for, if she could coax him back to the woods she could find a way to cause a fatal accident and make him her companion.
Her request was a surprise to him, but he was not sure that it was a good idea; he had not given up on Gloria and didn't want to put their relationship into further jeopardy. "Well it's a bit cold tonight, maybe another time."
Rosie was stunned by the unexpected rejection. "It's all right, the water feels warmer when it's cold outside."
"No I really don't fancy swimming tonight and anyway, they were repairing the pool and it might still be empty."
Rosie was getting annoyed, she knew it was his thoughts of Gloria that were interfering and she decided to give up on Ellis for the night. When she had been mortal and younger she had been to the woods with Gordy a few times and knew he would probably go to the same spot with Gloria. She decided to follow them there and have a bit of fun; Gloria needed to be punished further.
"Shall we go over to the bar and get a drink, Rosie?" Ellis asked.
"My name's not Rosie and I don't want a drink with you anyway, I thought I made that clear last time." She seemed a bit puzzled as she looked about her. "This is Minstrels. How the hell did I get here?"
"Are you having a joke; I brought you here on my motorbike, didn't I?" He looked at her feeling almost as puzzled as she did.
"Did you slip something into my drink?"
"Of course not." He gave a laugh. "Stop messing about, Rosie"
"I told you my name's not Rosie. This is creepy I'm going for a taxi."
"I'll give you a lift."
"Oh no you won't," she said angrily.
Ellis thought he knew why she was behaving the way she was. Maybe the pool had been repaired. Maybe they could go for a swim. He didn't fancy spending the rest of the evening on his own and he took hold of her arm as she was about to walk away. "All right, we can go nude bathing if you really want to," he said, and started laughing.
"Piss off you weirdo," she shouted before hurrying off.