This story was written for Author Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt: for the above picture and the word ‘Clouded’
I also include The Word of the Day Challenge. word: ‘Benevolent’
Benevolent means: Well meaning and kindly. Or (of an organization) serving a charitable rather than a profit-making purpose.
Here’s what I came up with …
Roaming the Peaks Forevermore
Branagh did what he always did, he walked aimlessly beneath the leaden, cloudy skies. His feet barely feeling the rocky ground and dried out grasses brushing his legs. His stride carried him through the peaks and troughs of the undulating peak district landscape. Mists rolled and descended over the higher hills given them a cloudy ominous feel. Damp mosses hung with dew upon the manmade hillocks where a rabbit or two were looking on.
Branagh remembered better times as a lead miner. He had carried countless tons of rock and earth from the mines and built up some of these odd-shaped little tors.
It all changed when he became the mine supervisor. Sure, he was benevolent in charge. Showing charity, he increased every miner’s wages by threepence; that was a lot in those days. He gave longer breaks and ensured morale was high with a treat or two a month.
What he hadn’t bargained for was the cloak and dagger dealings of a portion of the miners. One day he’d been changing torches in the mine when he’d stumbled upon three such rogues. The three near-naked men stood sweating in their sackcloth slacks as they divvied up their ill-gotten gains from illegally siphoning ore.
“I’ll turn a blind eye this time lads – be warned, cross the mine again and I shall banish you from these here hills — for good!” Branagh had warned.
“Blessings upon you, boss,” said the one called Iain – the ringleader.
Branagh had left it at that and gone about his day. He knew he’d have to watch them from then on, but a fair warning felt good on his benevolent conscious.
Branagh walked between the conical hillocks and crossed a peat rich bog. Recent rains had flooded the area a fair bit, but it was still passable. Without a groan at the mud, he ascended toward the foggy peaks. The cloudy sky never dampened his spirit. He was forever gloomy anyway.
Nearing the top of the tor, he flinched at a shrill whistle, blowing on the cruel north wind.
A second blast came from the west.
Branagh levelled his grey eyes upon the monotone valley below.
A red setter was bounding toward him. Her shining copper coat flowing about her legs with elegance and shining even on this muted day.
Branagh smiled, he loved dogs. He’d always had a bloodhound himself, his last a courageous male was called Doon, he’d had been the loyalist of them all. “Good morning, Girl. You’re a fine specimen aren’t you.”
The setter came within five-feet and sat down. Her dark eyes locked on Branagh. She gave a polite bark and blinked as she lowered her head.
Branagh bowed too, “Thank you, for the respect.”
The whistle blew again. “Calleigh, come!” called a feminine voice.
The dog gave a throaty bark and whined.
Branagh grinned and watched a blonde lady, wearing a green waistcoat and wellies over a black jumper and jeans, appear. She was breathing heavily from climbing the hill. “I think you might be in trouble, Calleigh.”
“What are you doing dog?” said the lady arriving at the setter’s side.
Calleigh whined and pawed the ground. She sniffed the misty air and approached Branagh.
“There’s nobody here.” The lady put her hands on her hips and nodded down the hill. “Come on, Let’s go.”
“Go on, dog. Be a good girl and protect your mistress, now.” Branagh instructed as the lady walked straight through him and headed down the hill.
The dog bowed her majestic head with a friendly whine and bounded after her mistress leaving Branagh smiling.
He looked down at his spectral hands and sighed. It would be nice if the living could still see him. He’d have enjoyed a chat once in a while.
The evening after he’d caught Iain and his cohorts. Branagh had walked up this hill to watch the stunning red sunset with his dog. As they stood alone the three men jumped him.
Branagh remembered the onslaught of fists and feet slamming into his body. Doon the Bloodhound had launched a savage attack, desperate to save his master. The vicious crooks did for him first. A shovel to the neck killed him instantly.
Iain directed his men to dig a grave.
Branagh could still feel himself being dumped into it and buried along with Doon. He was almost dead by then. The suffocating earth finished him off but failed to steal his soul. As dawn broke, he’d risen from his body and become a Wraith roaming the Peak District forevermore.
Thanks for reading this and my other short stories, my friends. As always there are more stories to be enjoyed (I hope) in the Short Stories tab.
Have a great day!