A short about Walker the undying, not undead, he feels pain, breathes bleeds and is warm.
My name is Walker, and I cannot die, and these are my tales.
Mark – Somerset early July 1976
Molly Deane was seven, and her birthday party was held at the village hall. Her little friends all came in and gave her their presents.
Much cake was eaten, and Mike the Magician made chocolate coins appear from the Birthday Girl’s ear to giggles and laughter. They all left with their party bags.
Molly went home tired and fractious. She played with her presents for a while.
‘Molly who gave you this?’ her mother Frances asked holding up a dream catcher, it was beautifully crafted from dark twine, shells and feathers.
‘It was in my party bag mum.’ Replied the little girl, ‘what is it?’
‘Oh someone must have put it there; it is a dream catcher it is supposed to catch bad dreams before you have them. We will hang it over your bed for you.’
So when Molly went to bed the Dream catcher was hanging on the wall above her bed.
In the morning Frances went in to wake Molly up.
‘Molly it’s time to get ready for school, come on sleepyhead.’ It took her a while to wake the little girl up.
And over the next few days it got harder, her teachers said she seemed listless and distant.
Then on Friday she could not wake her at all so called the doctor, he had her rushed to the hospital at Weston, saying that she was the third child he had come across in this state. It was like she had gone into a coma without any obvious signs of illness; all the tests were done without any signs of anything being wrong.
On Monday the Consultant spoke to Molly’s mother.
‘Mrs Deane, we have carried out all the tests we can think of to do to find out why your daughter will not wake up. Your daughter, along with the five other children, who I understand are friends of your daughter, have no signs of any illness we can identify. I have already said this to the other parents; you should prepare yourself for the worst.’
Frances Deane broke down at that point.
The next day she asked for the local Priest the Reverend Marcus Smallbone of the Church of the Holy Cross in Mark to visit their daughter.
Marcus Smallbone called for me the next day.
2 Soul catcher
I had been invited to a meeting by Marcus Smallbone a Protestant Vicar in the village of Mark in Somerset. He had hinted on something unusual going on in his parish.
I had met Marcus thirty years ago while he was studying Theology at Oxford and we had got on well.
I had been in Oxford to lay to rest a disturbed soul whose place of rest had been disturbed by construction work.
It was a bright warm summer morning when I arrived in Mark.
I parked at the Pack Horse Inn next to the Holy Cross Church and just a short walk to the Vicarage; I had booked a room there for a week. I had arrived early for check in but the room was available. It was at the side overlooking the church yard and quieter than rooms on the road. I phoned the Vicarage, Marcus’s housekeeper answered and told me that he was out visiting the parents of a sick child she took a message and said she would let him know I was here.
I walked over to the Church and looked around. It was quite old, some elements from the 1200s though most later. It was peaceful there. I am no lover of the Christian faith; there is at least some truth in all the ancient religions, though they are all powered by faith. Man makes gods in his own image, from his own need. But churches are often places of peace and havens for meditation.
I understand the power of faith; it is that which I use to lay troubled spirits to rest. I did not know what problem Marcus had encountered, but he was at least enlightened enough to come to me.
Most Christian Priests, scratch that, most Priests whatever religion, have their eyes shut against anything outside their religion.
Take the Fae; Fairies, Elves, Goblins, Bogeymen or what have you, they are the remnants of the peoples who populated this world when man was just another Ape. I can also deal with them to a certain extent; I even have power over some of the smaller Fae. They exist, but are publically denied by the hierarchies of all religions, and privately vilified by those same faiths.
Marcus found me in the Church quietly admiring the carvings of The Evangelists.
‘Praying Walker?’ he said with a chuckle, ‘There may be hope for you yet.’ I turned to face him; we had not met for almost thirty years. He started.
‘Oh my word you have not aged at all in the last thirty years, how can that be?’
‘Hello Marcus.’ I smiled at him. ‘I have in fact not aged in the last fourteen hundred years or so.’ He took a step back, a look of fear starting across his face.
‘There is no need to fear Marcus; I am no foul creature from legend, though you will find me in some legends, or any supernatural being. I am merely a man cursed with extended life. Fourteen hundred years ago I was a normal farm boy trying to feed my family, and then I offended one of the elder gods, Herne who cursed me with longer life, and then tasked me with protecting the supernaturally vulnerable. Hence you met me dealing with a possession. I cannot be evil by your standards as I am able to enter your church unharmed.’
He began to relax at this. ‘I guess not, but how can you not die, I understand the not ageing, but what if someone murders you, God forfend?’
‘I have been attacked and ‘killed’ several times. I was buried once and it took me days to get out. My body heals itself no matter what the injury and fire does not touch me. Pain though is very real.
Here shake my hand you will feel it is warm, I am not undead. I am here to help, what do you need of me?’
Marcus took a deep breath and relaxed, then spoke ‘I have several young parishioners who appear to be in a coma but some are or seem to be awake, I say awake but they do not respond to anything. Their eyes and features move, the Doctors state that this means there is some brain activity but nothing brings them round.’
I thought for a moment. ‘I would like to see them if possible; it sounds like something I came across two hundred years ago. But I would need to see them first. How many are there?’
‘Six in total, I will try to arrange it, but it needs to be soon some of them are beginning to fail, their bodies are starting to break down. Their parents are desperate and will entertain any possible solution.’
‘I will stay as long as needed to find out the cause of this illness, and then if I can help resolve it I will.’
Marcus thought for a moment or so then said. ‘I’ll phone Frances Deane, she had her daughter Molly taken home today when the Hospital said that they could no nothing else. If she agrees it will be easier for access. Hospitals are naturally suspicious about strangers examining patients.’
We went into his office at the back and he phoned and spoke to someone for a couple of minutes then put the phone down.
‘That was her Mother in law, she said that Frances was up with the girl, and she would talk to her and phone back in a few minutes.’
Sure enough the phone rang and a frantic voice could be heard at the other end. Marcus calmly assured her that no further harm would ensue from our visit.
‘Come on Walker, we’ll go in my car, I know the way and the Farm House is not far away on the Yarrow Road.’
We walked out the front and got into Marcus’s old jeep.
He smiled at me, ‘Some of the roads out here are not good and this helps me get to my flock, I bought it years ago from an American serviceman just before he cycled back to The States. It is not warm or particularly comfortable but it gets you there.’
We rattled off turning left onto Church Street then following the road round to Mark Causeway turning off the Causeway onto the Yarrow Road. The Rhynes at the side of the road were nearly empty, there having been a shortage of rain lately. About a quarter mile further on they screeched to a shuddering halt and parked at the side of a dusty farmyard. As they got out two farmhands were herding a line of cattle into a milking shed.
Marcus led the way to the front door of the farmhouse.
‘Marcus where is Mr Deane?’
‘Oh I should have told you. Sorry it’s just that everyone around here knows. Neil died as a result of an accident on the Farm four years ago now. Frances carried on with the farm knowing that it was Neil’s dream.’
An older lady opened the door.
She looked strained and drawn, ‘Hello Marcus.’ She looked at me ‘And you must be Mr Walker, I hope you can help.’
Marcus turned to me. ‘Walker this is Molly’s Grandmother Annie.’
We went into the kitchen.
Annie put the kettle on the range to boil. ‘I told Frances you had arrived, she will come down to see you in a minute. She has been unable to sleep since this all began so is freshening herself up. Mr Walker I hope you can help, I fear you might be Molly’s final hope.’
Tears beaded her eyes as she spoke and her face shows her tiredness and vulnerability. Marcus went to put a comforting arm around her shoulders, and she straightened up as he did so.
There were footsteps above them, then coming down the stairs. Frances Deane, was a tall willowy lady with a pale complexion, Green eyes and a mane of red hair. She stood tall and almost defiant in the face of such an imminent loss. I looked at her and my breath stopped for a second, she was without a doubt part Fae somewhere in her lineage and mixed with Ancient Briton, by that I mean essentially pre-Celtic Briton.
She spoke in a deep rich voice. ‘Marcus a pleasure to see you as always, Mr Walker welcome to my home, I hope you can help my daughter in some way.’
I shook her hand ‘Lady if in any way I can I will, but I understand that time is of the essence, so, please if you would lead the way, take me to your daughter and tell me of all the events leading to this point.’
As they ascended the staircase she spoke. ‘It started the morning after Molly’s 7th birthday party, I had trouble waking her up, but just put it down to her being tired after all the excitement.’
‘Did anything unusual happen during that whole period, including the party?’ I asked.
‘No I don’t think so, we had a magician. Local man, he had performed at one or two of Molly’s friends parties earlier in the month.’
She stopped before a door with a small porcelain plaque ‘Molly’s Room’
We entered, the room was cosy but not small, sunshine streamed in through the sash windows a few feet beyond the end of the bed. A toy chest was under the window filled to the brim with girlish toys, many of which were Barbie related. But there was something wrong in that room, I could feel it, something black. To me it made the room dark and a pall seemed to hang in the air. I turned towards where it seemed strongest.
Marcus looked at me. ‘Walker what’s wrong you have gone as white as a sheet?’
‘There’s something here it is pure evil, it has no place in a child’s bedroom, can none of you feel it?’
‘No but I’ll take your word for it after what I saw in Oxford.’ Marcus responded.
I directed my attention to the little girl in the bed, and my senses along the length of the bed, and there at the head of the bed right above Molly’s head it was. To my sight it resembled a spider sitting in the middle of a web and fishing for souls. For that is what it is a soul-catcher not a dream-catcher.
I stepped forward and ripped the thing off the wall and took it into a different room.
‘What is it and how will that help?’ asked Marcus.
‘It is a soul-catcher as far as I can tell, this probably will not help Molly but I need to follow her. This thing was made with the express purpose of drawing the soul from a body for some evil purpose or other. It is a tool of pure evil with only that purpose, but now I will use it against the maker who can be nothing other than a necromancer and a human one at that.
So I need it away from her, that alone will not bring her back, I will have to follow. I will need to sleep here tonight, but I have to go back to the pub to get some of my things.’
I turned to Frances ‘Do you know where this came from, and did any of the others have them?’
‘It was in the party bags, I think someone had put them there, but I do not know whom. Yes all the other kids had them but only six have got ill.’
‘Ok can you phone the other mums and make sure these things are removed but make sure they do not destroy them, as I do not know how they might be linked to the children, and that could make things worse.’
She looked like a rabbit in the headlights. ‘Yes I will do that. What are you going to do?’
I grinned mirthlessly ‘I’m going to follow the kids, and to do that I need to sleep very close to the catcher, but before that I am going to get some specific pieces of my equipment.’
She nodded and squared her shoulders, looking happier now she had something useful to do. I followed Marcus to his Jeep.
I picked up stuff from my room at the pub and joined Marcus at the Vicarage.
Marcus was gathering together a selection of dishes his housekeeper had been preparing. He handed me a pair of oven gloves and pointed me at the worktop where a large casserole was sitting.
‘Take that to the jeep, there is a wire basket attached in the back, it will hold it steady. Annie said that they had not eaten properly for days. I had thought not, so when I knew we were going over I asked Mrs Hollis, to prepare something.’
He followed me out with a large bowl of mash and veg, and we headed back to the Farm.
We ate outside in the garden. The evening was hot.
Frances and Annie had not expected the food and looked thankful.
We sat until late. Frances had nodded off.
I felt tired, so it was time and I made my way up to the spare room. I lay on the bed and held my knife, the one that had been made for me over 500 years ago. The blade was iron, sharp, chased with silver and imbued with blessings and small magics. I was hoping that as the blade was an integral part of my life, its memory would follow me to the overworld.
The soul catcher was above my head and Marcus had agreed to sit by me whilst I slept.
There were no spells or chants for this and I had only deliberately sent myself to the overworld once or twice before. The difference this time was that I needed to go to a specific point, that being where our protagonist had drawn the children.
After a while I slept and with the pull of the soul-catcher I left my body. It was a rushing feeling and when it stopped I looked round.
I was in what looked like a house, bright lit by, a Sun? I don’t know but there was a bright light source. I thought to myself ‘Toto I don’t think were in Kansas anymore’. There were windows so I looked out, there was a mill wheel and mill race. Whoever was occupying this bit of the overworld had imagined it as a copy of his/her home in the real world.
There was movement over towards the back of the room so I went over, and there they were, small figures, pale light, and monotone. They were held under a large glass bell jar on a table, pressed against the sides their small hands pushing at the sides. As they saw me they shrank back away from the sides evidently in fear.
I counted them only five not six. I tried to lift the jar, I could feel it but could get no grip. Then thought of the knife in my belt. I rapped the pommel against the bell it rang like glass. I grinned, maybe I could break the ball jar and let them out. Then I noticed the silvery grey ribbons coming from a tiny notch in the bottom at the rear.
I then realised that I had the same ribbon at my back, my memory told me that if these ribbons were severed then it would cut the soul’s connection with the body. Therefore if I broke the jar I would have to make sure the ribbons were not broken.
I spoke to the little figures. ‘Hello children my name is Walker. I have come to take you home, who is not here with you?’
A little voice piped up. ‘Hello mister the man took George. I’m not really here am I? I think my body is at home. Sometimes I think I can hear my Mummy talking to me. But I don’t think she hears me.’
I looked at the little figure. ‘Hello Molly, I am at your house. You are right your Mummy has been talking to you all the time. Right let’s get you all home.’
I now had an idea if I could get them all to push one way. ‘Alright kids if all of you go over to that side and push towards the end of the table. I will push from this side.’
We all started to push and shove and the bell jar began to move towards the end of the table. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw another figure approach much bigger and darker. This would be the Necromancer coming to check on his captives.
‘Keep pushing kids you are near the end of the table now.’
It had got to the end and was now teetering on the edge. I could see it about to fall. I didn’t want them to go with it, I did not know if it would break or not when it hit the floor so I held on to the ribbons with one hand and pulled out my knife with the other.
The figure saw what was happening and charged at me, he snatched up a fire iron from the hearth which changed to a sword as he ran. That worried me he was obviously powerful enough to manipulate chunks of the Overworld. I needed to keep him away from the kids until they were all out. If he cut any of their ribbons it would be game over for that child.
I gave a last shove pushing the jar over the edge, it tumbled to the floor smashing into tiny shards which scattered across the floor.
The kids stood on the table edge. ‘Molly and all of you hold onto your ribbon and use it to pull you home. I won’t let him stop you.’
‘The Molly shaped figure turned to me. It is Mike the Magician.’ She said as I turned to face the enraged Necromancer.
‘Who are you to steal my prey?’
Then he was upon me I managed to tap his weapon aside and twisted to avoid any injury, almost; I felt a streak of fire go across my side. I slashed at him just as he shoulder barged me. I crashed into the table and felt glass splinters crunching under my feet. I held onto him and pushed him back away from the receding figures of the children.
‘Where’s George I snarled at him. It’s all over now, when Molly gets back she will tell them who you are.’
He threw himself at me again. ‘It does not matter I’ll just move again. I have been doing this for decades, it keeps me young. Those six little souls would have kept me young for another ten years, it’s not too much to ask is It, six souls every ten years? ‘
His attack was to one side, and I saw only at the last instant that he was not going for me but the ribbon which attached me to my body. I twisted and threw myself in the way, felt the blade go into my side, but threw him off balance my knife slashing at his arm.
The end came quicker than I had anticipated, I had managed to grasp the grey ribbon from his back and was in just in the process of cutting it when I saw his blade coming down towards mine. There was nothing I could do so I cut his ribbon just as everything went dark in a flash.
My whole body was on fire, this was unlike any awakening I had experienced over the last fourteen hundred years. There were flashing lights to go with the headache and a terrible noise, which I was to learn later was the Combine Harvester, a song by a local band called The Wurzels on the radio.
I looked round there was Annie, Molly’s grandmother sitting in an armchair dozing in the sunlight coming in through the window.
My throat was dry and I started a dry retching, which quickly woke the old lady.
‘Lord have mercy’ she exclaimed crossing herself. Then in the next breath ‘He’s back, God help us, He’s back!!’ She called out.
I croaked at her ‘Water if you please, I’m dying of thirst here.’ I laughed a hacking laugh.
She looked at me dumbly for a second then reached for the jug of water on the dresser and filled a glass. Annie held it to my mouth and I drank deeply, the water bringing my strength back fairly quickly.
I heard feet thudding up the stairs. Frances and Molly entered the room. Molly grinning and Frances with disbelief on her face.
‘I told you he would be back’ Molly said in an excited voice. ‘Can I tell him please?’
‘No wait for Marcus, he will explain all.’
‘Awww Mum’ complained Molly.
She smiled indulgently at her daughter, who seemed none the worse for wear after her ordeal.
Out of the corner of my eye I could see tiny winged figures outside the window. There were Fey present. I was not surprised.
Frances looked at me. ‘You look rough, I’ll get you some soup and bread, it will be easier for you to digest. Come on Molly let’s give Mr Walker some space.’
I smiled ‘Just Walker is fine, and Molly is no problem I am glad to see her so well. How long was I out?’
Annie spoke ‘A week, we did not know what to do as we thought you dead. It was only Marcus insisting that we keep you here and tell no one that stopped us going to the emergency services.’
‘I’m glad you didn’t it is not easy escaping from a mortuary, and tends to freak people out. A week is the longest I have ever been out.’
There was a clattering downstairs and Marcus came up the stairs.
‘Walker good to see you back, what happened we only know what little Molly has said?’
‘What has she told you?’
‘She told us that she and the other children were held prisoner under a kind of jar, they did not know how long for as she did not remember a change in light. Then she remembered one boy George being taken away. Then nothing else until you arrived and freed them. She awoke babbling about the Magician from the party. Your turn.’
Frances spoke ‘Don’t tire him Marcus’ she admonished him.
Marcus responded with a smile ‘I think Walker more than tough enough to carry on.’
‘Yes I am strong enough’ Walker joined in, then went on. ‘I slept and all of a sudden I was pulled to the overworld and this dwelling, I assumed it mirrored the creator’s home in this world. I was in a long bright room and at the far end I found a bell jar with the children underneath. I got them to help me push the jar to the edge of the table and held them on the top whilst the jar toppled off. Then the magician or more correctly necromancer arrived and attacked me. He was strong there and it was all I could do to hold him back whilst the kids escaped. Finally it would seem we cut each other’s grey ribbon. I presume Molly has told you all about it; I’m sorry about George though I was not able to save him’
At this point Molly could not contain her excitement. ‘We did, we found him, and George is going to be fine. We found the magician’s house, and… ‘
‘Hold Molly’ said Frances ‘let Marcus tell the tale’
I looked at the priest.
Marcus took a breath ‘We looked up Mike the Magician’s address in the directory as Frances still had a copy of his card from the Post Office window. Frances, Molly and I went out there. And before you say anything Molly refused to stay behind. There we found an old Mill which Molly recognised. I left them at the front and walked round the back. There was an open door, so I went in. I found the body of Mike the Magician, he was unmarked. In another room I found a jar like that Molly described with a small figure inside, Molly and Frances had come in. Molly lifted the jar and told the little figure to follow his ribbon. George left and I phoned the Police.’
I said to Marcus ‘I will need to stay here for a day or two, having travelled in the overworld once they are likely to do so again inadvertently. I have to make sure that they are able to return to their bodies each time. They will probably be able to interact with creatures of the otherworld. Fae. ’
‘Like those?’ Asked Molly pointing out the window. ‘I’ve been talking to them.’
‘Yes, they are fine and will probably like you, but they can be fickle, tricksy sort of, so don’t always believe anything they say and do not eat anything they might give you. I’ll teach you more about that over the next few days.’
I looked over at Marcus. ‘Are you able to take me over to the Inn I can rest there as well as anywhere and let these people get back to normal?’
‘Yes no problem, you could stay with me if you’d rather.’
Frances joined in. ‘Why not stay here, then you could coach Molly and some of the others here.’
I stayed there for nearly twenty years, Frances and I got together and I helped bring up Molly as my daughter.
Marcus and Annie married. Frances died in 1995 from cancer. Molly had moved away after university but not far, and came back to take over the farm.
Six months later near Dusseldorf in Germany Rudolf Klein suddenly awoke from a coma he had been in for almost a year. When he awoke his family were astounded that he only spoke English and wanted to be called Michael.