Wetness falling on my face awoke me. Half-sleep I rubbed at my cheeks and nose. Groggily I opened my eyes and wondered where I was. Sitting up confused I was outside, I looked around.
Tops of headstone poked out of the grass, their surfaces dappled with raindrops. Behind them lay the church looking more menacing in the growing dark. I heard the wind blowing harshly in the nearby trees and bushes. In the distance a sea wave hit the rocks.
Panicking, I scrambled to my feet as everything came back to me. I had fallen asleep in the Brierwell Manor graveyard and judging by the sky I should have been home hours ago. I searched for King, knowing that the huge black stallion was easy to spot.
‘King! King! Here boy!’ I cried wildly, not seeing him in the graveyard.
Had he gone back to the Grey causeway? Had he gone home without me? Did he even know the way?
I put on the protective body vest and helmet, fumbling with the clips then I stumbled through the long grass calling his name.
The rain was starting to fall more heavily and the wind picking up to storm force. We had to get off the island now before it got any worse.
Thrashing through the grass, not thinking straight, I tripped over a headstone. I hit the ground hard, the grass hardly cushioning my fall. The air whooshed out of me and the protective vest luckily didn’t go off but it cut into my neck and sides. Pain shoot through my legs, arms and my chest.
I shut my eyes and lay still as I counted to a minute, then I moved into a sitting position. Breathing hard, my mind full of panic, I looked at what I had fallen over. It was a small grey headstone with a lamb carved at the top. Though the words were faded I could make it out to read;
Infant son of E. W. and E. V. Brierwell
1st September 1858
My brain took a moment but then I realised this was the grave of a baby who had either been a still born or died soon after birth. E and E? I thought. Oh, Lord Edward Walter and his second wife Lady Elizabeth Victoria who had built the manor.
I reached out and stroked the headstone, thinking how sad that must have been for them. Raindrops hit my hand and I looked up at the sky. The thick clouds were turning black and looked like a storm rolling in.
‘You need to calm down and pull it together,’ I whispered to myself, ‘you need to find King and get back home. You can do it but just take a minute here to sort yourself out.’
I stood up and walked over the shelter of the church. The wooden door was locked but there was a porch I could sit in. Holding the cold stone wall for support, I turned and watched the wind and rain gathering in the graveyard.
With a bit of difficulty and as best I could, I got into yoga sit. Coldness flood though my pants and tickled along my spine. I thought about getting up again and putting my fleece on the floor but I didn’t want to struggle around again. Instead I shut my eyes and cleared my mind as best I could. Thinking only about my breathing; breath in through the mouth and out through the nose, I stayed like that until I felt better.
Opening my eyes, I felt better though my bum was numb. Getting back with the aid of the wall, I stepped into the rain and looked around. Even though it was growing darker by the second, I could see the track King had left in the grass.
I followed the flatten grass and hoof prints in the soil. There was a fallen down section of stone wall close to the right side of the church and King had gone this way. I followed after him pushing through thorny bushes and avoiding fallen tree branches.
An out building that had once been a stable block came into view. I picked up my pace and went inside.
‘King!’ I cried on seeing him.
The stallion was plucking hay out from a stack of rotting bundles in one of the horse stalls.
He flicked his ears back at the sound of my voice saying his name then chopped on what he was eating.
‘I don’t think that’s good for you,’ I said.
Going over, I stroked him and pressed my face to his rough black coat. I gathered the reins and King let me led him, quietly which was unusual, out into what had been a cobble stone yard.
‘We need to get home,’ I told him whilst I looked for something to stand on to give me extra height to mount him.
I spotted a stone water trough and took King over. The water had some slime floating on top but still King bent his head and took a drink.
Holding on the saddle to help my balance, I climbed up on the water trough and got King to come alongside. I climbed onto his back and sat down as lightly as I could into the saddle. Pulling the reins right again, I got King to walk on and we went back the way we had come.
‘The rain is really coming down now,’ I uttered, ‘we are going to get soaked through!’
The wind whipped King’s mane, tail and my purple hair that was sticking out from the helmet. Everything moved around us like a giant was parting through. Loose leaves and small branches rained down. I urged King onwards and he picked up his pace as he was aware we needed to go now!
Across the graveyard, back to the front of the manor and down the front drive, King trotted. The rain dripped of my helmet and protective vest, but it soaked into my pants. King’s mane and coat was dotted with drops and some of them did slide off him as we moved.
On to the Grey causeway King stepped and I saw to my horror that the tide had come in.
‘Oh my god! How long did I sleep for?’ I cried.
Panic swelled in my chest and I felt my heart began to beat too fast. Dizziness made my head swim and I felt like I sliding out of the saddle. I took a few deep breaths, got a grip again and looked down at King’s legs.
The sea was about to his ankles and the Grey Causeway was covered but still visible. We could still cross if we were quick. I pushed King onwards and though he went to fight me, he must have sensed something of the danger ahead of us. Luckily, he started walking then picked up into a trot.
Sea water splashed up, wetting him further and the waves which were bigger now splashed over the causeway and up King’s legs. I saw seaweed floating by and hope it didn’t get wrapped around King’s ankles.
I kicked him on and stood up in the saddle, urging him to go into canter. I heard King snort and felt him pick up his speed. Water splashed around us, some of it hitting me but we were all ready wet so it didn’t seem to matter.
I heard before I saw that that the sea waves had grown. They were swelling together and crashing on the rocks with some force now. I looked and saw dark waves washing over the causeway head of us and making everything disappear underwater.
‘No!’ I screamed, ‘Go King! Go!’
I slapped the reins down and kicked him in the side. King neighed out in anger but there wasn’t much he could do about. He ran forward, muscles expanding and water running off him.
Then King tripped.
Either he stepped off the causeway or a stone give way underneath him because suddenly we were falling into the sea.
I opened my month to scream and chocked on sea water. I flayed around, my feet trying to find a solid surface to stand and push me up. I was half were of King floundering along side me. Rocks scrapped against me and I grabbed on of them and used that to help me get back onto the Grey Causeway.
I stood up, spitting out salt water and feeling pain aching everywhere. I looked for King and saw he was all right and had got himself out of the sea a bit further down the way to me. Water was dripping off him and he was shaking with shock.
I waded over to him, water getting into my knee high boots. When I reached him, I took his reins and led him back to Brierwell Manor.
To Be Continued…