Black Balloon #PhotoChallenge

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The woman was holding a black balloon. I walk slowly towards her across, the harvested cornfield. There was no wind or sound, everything had frozen.

White and grey puffy clouds lined a pale blue-grey sky. In the distance, more harvested fields stretched, the earth brown or pale yellow. There no trees or houses, nothing else but her with the balloon.

‘Hello!’ I tried to call out, but I didn’t hear my own voice speaking.

I came closer and saw the woman had no head. Stopping, I wondered what was going on. She wasn’t invisible, for I could see her arms, hands and legs. She was wearing a stripy top and a black skirt with black ballerina slippers. In her hands was the white string of the black balloon which was floating just about where her face should have been.

‘Who are you?’ I spoke, once again my words came out silent.

A few more steps and I was before her, though I left a wide gap in between. She didn’t move and at first it seemed like she wasn’t aware of me, but then I guess without a head how could she have been? Then her hand reached out and she offered me the string.

I looked up at the balloon and it was one of those party kinds, like kids have at birthdays, only it was as black as midnight.

‘I don’t want it, thanks,’ I said, shaking and waving my arms no, so she got the message.

The woman’s arm reached out further, offering me the balloon strongly.

‘No!’ I yelled.

She pressed the string into my hand and though I didn’t grasp it, the string wrapped around my palm and laced over my fingers. I gasped and looked up, the balloon was now just above my head.

I shot out my hand to give it back to the headless woman but she had gone!

Something tugged on me, I glanced at the string then the balloon before I was pulled upwards and away, my feet swinging off the ground. I tried to let go of the string, but my hand was glued to it. The balloon rose up with me attached and we flew across the bare fields.

Up and up the balloon took me, right through the clouds. With my other hand, I grasped the wrist holding the string and tried to release my fingers. I struggled against the unknown force that was holding my hand shut, twisting in the air like a mad puppet.

The balloon came to a stop, my hand came free and the string slipped away. I plummeted. My mouth wide open in a scream which was silenced, my arms and legs flapped in the air, my fingers trying to grip anything and finding nothing.

There was no time to try and reach for the string of the black balloon, it was gone in seconds.

I twisted, tumbled, fell through clouds, felt the wind against my skin like an angry slap. I clawed at the sky, I screamed after the balloon and the headless woman. I saw the yellow and brown earth racing up to meet me. I knew I was going to hit it and there was nothing I could do!

And then, I slammed into my car’s steering wheel, felt the hard leather pressing against my forehead. My seat belt tightly constricting my chest and stomach. I heard the windscreen wipes whooshing, the rain hammering down and the growling of an unhappy car engine.

I look up and there is blood everywhere.

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2018/08/21/photo-challenge-227/ with thanks).

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Mission #3LineTales

three line tales, week 124: two colourful doors that lead to ...

The doors didn’t seem real but she knew they were, for they had house numbers on them and real steps leading up to them, though no else seemed to see them.

She knew that what was behind the doors though were not normal houses but passageways to two different countries not marked on any maps and she had visited both countries now often enough.

Today however, was different, she had a mission to try and complete; the uniting of the two places through a royal marriage and that if everything went perfectly, would stop the thousand year of war between the two countries.

 

(Inspired by https://only100words.xyz/2018/06/14/three-line-tales-week-124/ with thanks).

Noctuary #atozchallenge

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Noctuary; the record of a single night’s events, thoughts or dreams. 

I had the dream again last night. I was in the library, there were the hushed sounds of voices and pages being turned. The smell of old leather, paper, ink, wax and dust drifted like a strong perfume. I was at an old desk, candles in lamps flickering around me and I was wearing a long white dress with a black corset.

Books were piled around me and I was reading one, open on a stand and the writing seemed to be in Latin. I was looking for something but I couldn’t seem to find the answers in any of these volumes. There was an ink pot and feather quill in a stand on my right side with some sheets of yellow paper.

Closing the book, I selected another one and flipped through it. Stopping at a page with a coloured drawing on one side and tiny writing on the other, I looked at the picture. There was a girl, older then me and she was wearing a white dress too! Her’s was tied with a large black bow at the back. She was going up some stone stairs in the middle of a forest. There were tall, green pine trees fading in the distance and lines of sunlight pouring through them.

I tried to read what the picture was about, but the book was written in a language I didn’t know. I studied the girl, noticing how her hair was the same brown colour as mine but it was straight and not curly. I blinked and the girl’s head had moved! Her face had turned to look over her shoulder and out of the page!

Gasping, I tried to convince myself it wasn’t true but I knew the girl was watching me. Her eyes were the same colour as my own and her face though on the edge of adulthood was mine too. I pressed my face closer to the book, my hands trembling as I clutched the edges. I saw a wind playfully blowing the girl’s dress about.

She was saying something! I lent closer in, trying to hear what the girl was saying.

‘It’s not here, what you seek,’ she whispered.

‘It’s not?’ I uttered back.

‘It’s here,’ she said and waved her hand at the forest in the picture.

‘Where?’ I pressed, desperately.

‘You know,’ she hissed back.

The wind played with her hair and the tails of the long black ribbon then everything became still. The girl’s head turned back and the picture was still again.

The book slipped through my fingers and hit the table top hard. The noise rang through the library then the dream was swirling away.

Next moment, I saw myself standing as the older version of me had done. I was on the steps leading up the forest. I could smell the pines and the green bushes. Birds were twitting and the wind was waving the tree tops. I looked down and saw myself in the same white dress with the black ribbon as she had worn them.

And I as walking through the trees, looking for what I knew to be there; the answers I had been seeking to life itself.

The Town That Was Lost To Time

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The small mining town had been built by hard working men for themselves and their families. Prosperity filled the buildings, laughter filled the streets and everything was just like any other town for many years. Then the coal and money began to run out, forcing people to find work else where and leave their homes.

With time, all the buildings become empty. For years, they sat alone until explorers came to see them. The new people found things pretty much as they had been left, as if the owners had just gone on holiday. Though, it was clear those people were never coming back.

The explorers’ photos and word of mouth spread and more people came to view the abandoned town. Things long untouched gotten taken, people left their different marks and the buildings deteriorated further. That though just made interested parties visit more often but they too added to the destruction.

At last, the ghost town crumbled and nature reclaimed the land. Visitors stopped coming and what little reminded of the buildings was left alone. And where once a happy, working town had stood there become nothing but the passage of time.

A Lost Day

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I didn’t get around to today. It was like time wasn’t there. Things had stopped and just didn’t existed anymore.

Thundersnow

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From his window, safe and warm in his house, Peter watched a mixture of hailstone and snow falling. In a few blinks, everything was icy white as if someone had dropped lots of tins of paint. Cars slide across the road and people tried to battle against the snow storm.

A bright flash of light nearly blinded him and Peter looked up, confused. Had that been lightening? He listened, but could hardly hear the rumble of thunder that followed. Two storms at once? he wondered. Searching, he soon saw another lightening strike but this time he didn’t hear the thunder.

He searched his mind and recalled something, he had once heard on the news in another country; thundersnow. It happened in winter, during a snow storm and the lightening was brighter then normal due to reflection off the snow and the thunder was quieter. Was this what he was seeing now? Peter wasn’t sure, but it seemed possible.

In The Cemetery Snow

Caspar David Friedrich Monastery Graveyard in the Snow 1817-19

The monks walked slowly through the place they had long ago called home. The once magnificent archway which had dominated them for hundreds of years rose out of the bare trees, a skeleton of it’s former self. The suffocating snow lay heavy on the land and the gravestones making everything seem even more dead. And the eternally grey sky above reminded the monks just how bleak their lives had now become.

(Story inspired by and imagine of photograph of Caspar David Friedrich’s 1819 oil painting Klosterfriedhof im Schnee (Cloister Cemetery in the Snow)

Backwards Time

stress-2883648_1920She was just so far behind with everything that she might as well be time travelling back into the past. The work was piled meters high on her desk, so that it looked like paper sculptures and her computer calendar chimed every minute with another reminder about something.

She did all she could in the work time then went home to a dysfunctional house. At least her husband had remembered to pick up the kids from their after school clubs today. There was still a meal to be made, clothes washing to do, tidying up and from out of the chatter of her ten year old, a school project that was due in tomorrow and he hadn’t started yet.

There was no escaping the lack of time here either but she couldn’t easily stop like at work. Somehow and with family help, she got everything done and went to bed at midnight. The dream she had though was strange. She was walking somewhere, the colours were all washed together and she could hear a loud clock ticking in the distance.

There was a town but all the people in it had clocks instead of faces. She could hear them speaking to each other and they didn’t find it as bazaar as she did. Still that loud ticking continued. She entered a city and found all the buildings made of clocks and the noise they created was deafening. The people they didn’t seem to care because they were totally clocks themselves.

She watched them hurrying past. They had long thin black legs with shoes at the end and long black hands with black gloves and the clock face was the body and the head together. They seemed to talk in a tick tock language which she couldn’t understand. Then she saw a clock dog being walked by a clock person and it was all just too much to handle.

Hurrying away, she left the city and found herself in the colour washed landscape once more. There was a mirror before her, standing alone and seemingly waiting for her. She went up and looked at her reflection…but a clock face looked back at her instead. Screaming, she awoke from the dream and sat in the darkness wrapped in twisted sheets.

Her husband shifted beside her and awoke, questioning what was wrong.

‘Look at my face!’ she demanded.

‘I can’t, it’s dark,’ he replied.

She got up went into the bathroom and slowly stepped before the mirror. Her own face looked back at her. Breathing deeply, she shook off the dream but decided that tomorrow she was going to ask for some help and perhaps then she could live in the now and not in the past.

The Olde Coach Inn (Part 2)

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As a grin spread wide on Colton’s face and he got ready to launch into a story, I reached over the bar and shoved my hand up in front of his mouth to stop him.

‘No! They can’t know. It’ll affect the evidence!’ I shouted.

Colton’s face crumpled and he swallowed his words. It was clear he wasn’t a man who was stopped from speaking. He was probably use to spinning the haunting tales of the Coach inn and making sure the listeners were scared. Something he enjoyed doing whenever possible – or so the reviews online had said.

‘I’m sorry, but no. It’s the way we work. Perhaps, afterwards?’ I added.

Colton struggled for words and his face flashed an angry red. His hands became fists and he looked ready to yell at us to leave. I scrambled to find something else to add on to make it right but Lexi bet me to it.

She lent over the bar, giving Colton a full view of her cleavage in the low cut top she had on. Smiling sweetly and batting her eyes, she said gently, ‘Alice is so touchy about our locations staying secret. She thinks it helps the audience believe in us more.’

Colton’s full attention swung to her and we all saw his brown eyes become fixed on her chest.

‘On the other hand, I don’t think the same,’ Lexi continued with a shrug of her shoulders that made her large boobs wobble.  ‘and I’d love to hear some spooky stories later. I bet this place has so many!’

Colton give a small nod, but he wasn’t really listening.

‘First though, can we go on that tour? I just love this place all ready! But can you, just a little bit, hold back on the detailed history and the hauntings,’ Lexi added.

There was a pause and I heard Quinn drag in a huge breath.

‘Sure,’ Colton muttered. The beast becoming tame again.

He came around the bar as Lexi turned to us and shot us a disappointed look that really said I just saved your arses. Quinn quickly turned his head away but he was unable to hide the anger and the jealousy. We grabbed our drinks and tried to get back on track.

‘So, this here is the main bar area….’ Colton began.

The tour took about forty minutes as Colton included all the out buildings, including the cottage he, his brother and mother shared. He briefly explained about each room, giving some dates, pointing out original fittings, highlight furniture that could also be original or of other interests. He also told us that the only area out of bounds for our investigation was his cottage. Understandable.

Every time Colton looked like he was about to spill something, Lexi would ‘accidentally’ brush a boob or a hand against him, else she would stand in front of him and ask a question.

Victor and I kept an eye on Quinn who got madder each time she moved like that.

When we arrived back at the bar, Lexi thanked Colton so sweetly it was painful, then she asked, ‘what time is dinner?’

‘We start serving at five,’ Colton replied, ‘guests get a reserved table and here’s some menus for you.’

Lexi took them and pressed them to her chest, without casting her eyes away from Colton’s.

‘You’re welcome to wait here….Would you like another drink?’ Colton tacked on.

‘I’m fine thanks,’ I said, placing my empty glass on the bar, ‘and thanks for the tour it was really useful. See you later.’

I turned and squeezed Victor’s arm. He placed his glass down beside mine, give his thanks and we headed up stairs.

‘Can we get drinks to take up?’ Lexi asked behind us.

I hurried upstairs and into our room. Sitting on the bed, I watched Victor close the door and come to join me. He took my hand and we sat for a few moments. I breathed the tension out, feeling a headache starting.

‘I’m going to have a shower then a nap,’ I blurted.

‘Sure. I’ll unpack some more,’ Victor said.

The shower felt so good and my head cleared. Despite the age of the inn the bathrooms were modern. I fell asleep afterwards but was woken up by loud voices. Pushing my head off the pillow, I looked at the wall above me and realised Quinn and Lexi were arguing.

I sank back down, turned over and bumped straight into Victor. He was curled up next to me, fast asleep. I shook his shoulder and he came back too. We talked with our eyes then both got up and left the room.

I knocked loudly on their door. It took a few tries but then Lexi threw it open. I almost fell inside.

‘What? What do you want?!’ she yelled.

‘Just stop,’ I said.

I pushed her aside and walked into the room. Quinn was on the other side of the bed, pacing like a caged tiger. He was flexing his hands into fists then releasing. He was also grinding his teeth and looking like he wanted to hit something so badly.

‘Just let it all go right now,’ I snapped, ‘I tried so hard to set all this up for us! And I’m not having it ruined over a little flirting! Okay?’

Lexi crossed her arms and turned her nose up.

‘We need this!’ I shouted, ‘or else there’s no point anymore.’

Victor came over and grabbed my arm, he tried to draw me into a hug but I pushed him away.

‘Now, make up!’

Lexi sighed and dropped her arms, ‘okay, I’m sorry, Quinn.’

‘I can’t…’ Quinn growled.

‘Let’s give you some space,’ I suggested.

I took Lexi out of the room and into mine, Victor trailing us.

By dinner time we were all friends again. Sat at our reserved table in the smaller, cosier side corner off the main bar area, we watched as people arrived for meals and drinks. The inn was’t that busy. I guess the sudden turn in the weather had put people off. We order and ate, talking about how we were going to set up for filming.

We went to bed early, tried with food and travelling. I opened the window in the room and let the gale force wind and rain in. It felt so good on my flushed skin. Victor said something from behind me and I turned to ask him what, but he wasn’t in the room.

‘Vic?’ I called.

‘Just a mo!’ he called from the bathroom.

I frowned and did a full circle. There was nothing of course.

The toilet flushed, the tap ran then Victor came out and crossed the room.

‘You okay, bunny?’

‘Dd you just say something….like whilst you were in the bathroom or just before?’ I asked.

‘Erm, no,’ Victor responded.

I nodded and turned back to the window.

‘Did you hear…something?’

‘Yes. I heard you saying…I don’t know, it sounded like ‘Alice, come here’, maybe. Did you?’ I questioned.

‘No.’

I touched the curtain then pulled it across. The wind began flapping the fabric about. I pulled the curtain away and spent a few moments getting the curtains into place.

Victor put a hand on my shoulder and kissed me, ‘and so it starts,’ he whispered into my ear.

We got into bed. I listened to the sound of the wind and rain, the movement of the curtains and the bed shifting as we both moved. From the other room, I heard Lexi and Quinn having sex. I stroked Victor’s arm and we half started making love but then I couldn’t go through with it. My mind was too distracted.

‘What’s wrong?’ Victor asked me in the hushed darkness.

‘I didn’t want to say anything before. You know how I hate….’ I began.

‘Yep. You’re the most sensitive of us all but you deny the supernatural are out there all the time,’ Victor reminded me.

I pressed my lips together. The loud pleasure sounds coming through the wall filled the space were my voice should have been.

‘There’s something here,’ I breathed.

I felt my skin prickling and a waft of heat drift over me. It was hard to describe what I felt, heard or saw sometimes. My parents hadn’t embraced my ‘sixth’ sense but had taught me to ignore it and call it imagination. I wanted it to stay that way but sometimes it was hard to believe that there wasn’t something else out there.

‘With us now?’ Victor asked.

‘No. Something in the inn. It’s been following us…I think,’ I tried to explain.

‘Well, that’s good. Hopefully, we’ll capture it.’

Victor snuggled me and he was soon fast asleep. I though couldn’t and stayed awake. I watched the shadows across the ceiling and guessed every sound. I think, maybe I dozed off a few times but then in the early hours of the morning, I felt the end section of the duvet and sheets began to move.

Half asleep, I just told myself it was Victor shifting or else I’d moved the blankets before. I came fully awake, felt the duvet more move and had to question what was going on. I lay still, letting the duvet be pulled down slowly. I felt a touch of cold air on my arms then I heard the duvet shifting faster. My breathing hitched, I couldn’t move, the duvet stopped and I felt icy fingers grabbing my left boob.

I gasped, threw my arms around my chest and struggled to sit up. I thought I heard a groan or a growl. Flinging my arm out, my hand hit the lamp, knocking it against the wall. I scrambled to catch it then turned it on. Light pooled out, throwing the darkness away. There was no one next to me.

Victor stirred, mumbled something then rolled over. I glanced at him then around the room. I felt like something was watching me from the corner and I knew it was waiting till I turned out the light again then it was going to leave or come at me again. Steadying my breathing, I looked at the end of the bed. The duvet and top sheet really had been moved down.

I eased the bedding back and slipped out. The floor was cold under me, but I got up and walked to the end of the bed. I could just about make out that the duvet was almost to the floor. I breathed deeply, shook my head and tried to pin it on something natural. I went to the bathroom, switching the light on but whilst I was on the toilet, I heard a door creaking open.

I froze, listening as the noise stopped and boot steps echoing down the corridor. It could be Quinn, unable to sleep and going to read in the hallway or walk around the bar. He’d been known to do that before. But I knew it wasn’t him.

Not flushing or washing my hands, I crept back to bed. Snuggling against Victor, I squeezed my eyes shut, blocked out the sounds of someone stomping downstairs and tried to fall asleep again.

To be continued…

 

 

The Olde Coach Inn (Part 1)

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They were strange things to see hung up on the side of the inn but this wasn’t your average local drinking hole. The Olde Coach Inn with its many jointed black and white buildings dominated the bleak flat moorland. There was nothing to be seen for miles around, expect a sprinkling of small trees marking the edge of a wood far to the left. A dirt and stone road cut it’s way across the land, leading up to the car park and the front of the inn before weaving away again and out of sight.

As the four of us stood before the Tudor inn, taking it all in, I was shocked to finally be here. I’d seen the many photos on the internet and read all the reviews, but they were nothing compared to actually being here. I breathed in deeply and smelt the wild moors, the cold autumn air, old wood and pumpkin. It seemed so surreal but also perfect, like we were meant to be here right now.

The inn front was heavily decorated in a Gothic Halloween style. There were real skulls and bones framed by dark coloured boards hung up on the whitewashed walls. Plastic skeletons dangled down from window ledges and rattled in the wind, amongst all the other things like witch’s hats, bats, ghosts and grinning pumpkins. Interweave between them were green, orange and purple fairy lights which were currently off. Some real but mostly fake Jack O’Lantern pumpkins lined the base of the wall, trying to scare us away. Through the hundreds year old windows, I could see metal lanterns and candle holders.

Turning to my boyfriend, Victor, and our best friends, Lexi and Quinn, I realised that  we all fitted in with the inn. We were all dressed in heavy black clothes, wearing metal and plastic skull, bone and pumpkin jewellery. At first glace we looked like a death metal band on tour but actually, we were four goths who hunted ghosts for our YouTube channel.

‘Wow,’ Victor spoke out, ‘just wow!’

I turned to him, smiling and answered, ‘I told you so.’

‘How did you find this place again, Alice?’ Lexi asked.

‘Hard internet searching,’ I replied back.

‘Well, it’s perfect and with Halloween tomorrow we’re bound to capture some ghosts!’ Quinn the last member of our group finally chipped in.

I nodded and walked up to the front door. Most people would think the inn was just ready for a big Halloween party, but actually it looked like this all the year round. The door creaked causing me to smile widely then I was stepping down onto a wooden floor from the 1600’s. Avoiding the low, black wooden beams on the ceiling, I went to the huge bar.

There was a man with his back to me sorting out bottles on a shelf but he turned as he heard the boys dragging in the suitcases. The man was quite tall which must have been hard in this low building. He had long black hair and a beard, both tied back, he was wearing a black t-shirt and jeans. He frowned but then give a small nod to himself.

‘Welcome to the The Olde Coach Inn!’ he said in a loud voice, ‘you must be the ghost hunters!’

‘Yes, we are,’ I said, ‘we’ve booked two rooms for three nights.’

‘Yeah, I know. We got no other guests,’ he responded.

I nodded, ‘good. Thank you for that.’

‘Most people don’t like being here on Halloween, anyway,’ he added.

Victor came to my side, finding a place to put down the suitcases and bags of equipment. Lexi and Quinn were close behind us, taking in the period fittings. I looked around and realised that the inn was empty. The dark vanished circle and rectangle tables and matching chairs were clean and neat. In the large fireplace to my far left, coals and wood logs were set up to be burnt. Above black chandeliers which had candle style light bulbs dangled down on twisted black chains. Small lamps were on the wall, letting out a pointless burnt orange glow. A dim gloom draped over everything like a muffling blanket. The inn seemed like it was trapped in time.

Expect the Halloween and Gothic decorations of course! There were fake spiders webs in purple, orange, green, white and black covering the ceiling and upper walls, they were completed by black plastic spiders of course. Real and fake pumpkins were dotted around, squeezed in between things; on the bar, a few of the tables, mantel and window sills. Model skeletons, witches, ghosts, vampires and masked figures were hung every place they could fit. It was kind of over kill actually.

‘I’ll be here of course,’ the bar man said sternly, ‘and my brother, Dolton. He’s the chief. Plus, our mother. Though she doesn’t get out much now. You need anything, just come find me.’

‘Okay. Thanks,’ I said, putting a polite smile on my face.

‘I’ll get the keys and show you the rooms. Then I’ll give you a tour. I’m Colton by the way.’

I made the introductions and we all shook his hand then Colton went into a back room. Leaving us to soak up the place whilst he got the keys.

‘I hope the rooms look like this,’ Lexi uttered.

‘Properly,’ Victor answered, ‘though only Alice knows.’

He nudged me and I rolled my eyes, ‘you all know why I couldn’t tell you anything!’

It was our policy and helped to make what we filmed more credible. I was the researcher, so only I knew the ins and outs of each location we visited. The others came in blind which meant they had no preconceptions and knew nothing about the history or what was said to haunt the place.

Colton appeared back and stepped out from behind the bar. He had two brass keys with numbers painted on them in his hand.

‘This way,’ he said in a bored voice.

Picking up our stuff, we followed him down the side of the bar and to a small door in the wall. There was a noticing saying Bed and breakfast guests only! Colton opened the door which was silent and took us up a narrow staircase. Turning at the top we entered a short corridor with a few doors either side and another staircase at the end.

Colton opened the doors marked one and two then give me both the keys, before saying, ‘come down for the tour when you’re ready.’

I give Lexi the key to room two and walked into room one. It was bigger then the photos had made it out to be! There was a four post bed, draped with red canopy, a large desk and chair, two arm chairs by the window, a wardrobe and an ensuite bathroom. The small, foggy window looked onto the courtyard and road. The moors beyond seemed covered in mist.

With a tried sigh, I turned and lay down on the bed. It felt hard but comfy at the same time. I shut my eyes and the four hour drive it had taken to get here hit me. I just wanted to sleep for awhile. I heard Victor moving around then Alice and Quinn talking in the next room. I half expected one of them to disturb me, but this was the normal pattern of things and they wouldn’t.

I dozed but didn’t fully go to sleep. When Victor came and sat next to me I got up and we went to see if the other two were ready. They just about were so then we all went downstairs together and back to the bar.

Colton was there, putting away glasses this time. He stopped when he saw us and asked, ‘anyone fancy a drink? First ones on the house.’

We ordered and stayed sitting at the bar.

‘Right. Let me tell you all about the inn then,’ Colton started.

To be continued….