The House in the Woods
Jason & Penny were avid walkers, in fact almost any weekend you could find them somewhere out in the countryside.
They were easy to spot. Someone once remarked they were like The Bobsey Twins because they always dressed alike. Both in yellow walking boots with gray sock, Tan pants and a rust coloured jersey and bob hats that Penny had knitted. They even had matching rucksacks and sunglasses.
Folk were, later, to remark that they had seen them out on the Moor where the track crossed over the main road to Hollerith, the one by the Burger van that was always in the small car park. They had been spotted in the local woods and again as far afield as Sherdley Forest . They always used their bus passes so they hardly ever used the car. No need to find or pay for parking fees you see. It was a fine Spring morning when they got off the bus in Eddington. The air was crisp which tempted them to move off at a brisk pace. They were soon well into the forest by 8am. No one else was out that early which pleased them. They loved their own company. They had ever since that obnoxious man they met who had insisted he accompany them as he knew all the trails and the best view points. It took them the best part of the morning to get rid of him but by then it had already put a damper on the walk. From then on, even to the point of being a little blunt, they remained aloof of folk while out on their walks.
penny was the first to notice the little gnome sat at the edge of the path as she pointed it out to Jason, she could have sworn it moved, but she didn't say in case he laughed at her; he wasn't averse to taking the mickey when she slipped up.
It was beautifully carved and colourfully painted on the left breast there was a tiny letter V. They wondered why it was there and maybe if it had been bought and left there. This thought occurred when it was far too heavy to pick up and put in the rucksack so they just cast a lingering look and walked on. Had they looked back or came back that way they would see that it had gone.
Some 15 minutes later they came upon another, just as perfect and also just as heavy.This one had a tiny K painted on it's jacket Jason came to the conclusion that they were an advertising gimmick and there would be a shop or something in the forest where they could buy a cheap replica made of light plaster or plastic.
Penny said that it was odd that there were no signposts directing you to the shop and from what she could surmise from the pathfinder map there were no buildings even close by to where they were.
It was coming up to lunchtime so they decided to find a nice spot. No sooner had they decided when they came to a small clearing. Rucksacks off, Penny set about laying the cloth and getting the plastic crockery and utensils from her sack while Jason got the slightly heavier tubs of food from his, including the half bottle of red wine.
The chicken salad that Penny had prepared was delicious. They sipped the wine and were just about to tuck into some homemade apple pie when Penny gave a startled cry. Jason whipped his head round and saw 2 gnomes about 20 feet away at the edge of the clearing. They both looked at each other in amazement and were equally certain that the gnomes were not there when they sat down.
Jason stood up and slowly walked over to the gnomes, looking back towards Penny with every nervous step.
He reached down to touch one and jerked his hand back as if he had got an electric shock. He didn't get the shock as the gnome was made of stone, just like it's partner and those they had encountered on the trail a while back.
The shock came when he turned around and saw another 4 of them behind Penny. What they now missed in their fear was that each gnome had a different letter on it's jacket.
This was way past weird. they both grabbed their rucksacks, leaving everything else and fled out of the clearing as fast as their feet would carry them. Jason was the first to stop, Penny being the fitter one carried on a further 20 yards before realizing he had stopped. There were 3 gnomes behind him. She felt a slight headiness and then all went black.
She came to very slowly, her head buzzing and her eyes seemed as though she was looking through greasy glass it was all smudged and fuzzy. When she reached her hand out she touched something warm and gave out a yelp of fear. It was Jason lying along side of her and out cold. She shook him and patted his cheek, he stirred. She watched him come round and at the same time she looked around. They were in a small room. Not just a small room but a small room where everything was small. Jason tried to sit up but banged his head on a beam. Penny took hold of his hand and waited until his head cleared. The room was about as long as Jason was tall, some 6 feet and only about 4 feet wide.
They both knew that this was definitely not on the Pathfinders Guide to Sherdley Forest. Neither spoke, partly through fear and partly because they didn't want anyone to hear them. It was getting dark outside, there was no sunset that they could see, just the lengthening of the shadows. They could not stand, the best was a low crouch as they crawled towards the door. Jason was already suspecting that he could not fit through it even if they could open it. It was going to be a tight fit for Penny so they decided that if she was the only one who could squeeze through then she should go for help as it seemed obvious to both of them that they were in some sort of captivity for whatever reason they could not fathom. Had they eaten something that had made them both hallucinate? Surely not as these sightings had started well before they had eaten and the last meal they had eaten before leaving home was a bowl of cornflakes each.
The door was secure when Penny tried to move the small handle. When Jason aimed a kick,it held firm. They were well and truly stuck. Jason tried to lever himself up but the beam stopped him. He tried a double kick at the wall, but due to the constricted space it was a weak effort. Yes they were well and truly imprisoned but by who they had no idea.
Penny asked Jason if those odd gnomes could have anything to do with it. This time his laugh was not scornful, if anything, it was tinged with a little hysteria.
They both, in unison reached out for each other for comfort. With arms wrapped around each other they assumed a somewhat defensive posture and just lay there each wondering what was going to happen to them.Sometime , when, they didn't know they both fell asleep. What they also didn't know was that it was that they would not wake up the same.
The police were called to Jason and Penny's home about a week after they had gone off on their weekly walk. The paper lad had aroused the suspicions of their neighbors when he couldn't get an answer at the door to get the paper money.
As the car was on the drive the police assumed them to be in and getting no response they broke in. Finding nothing untoward except a rancid bottle of milk on the table they then assumed that the couple had not been there for several days. Taking what looked to be a recent photo they secured the house and posted a missing persons file on Jason & Penny Fielding. That was back in 2005. the house remained sealed by the police.
In March of 2017 Eric and Esther Cummings were taking a stroll through the forest When Eric spotted, just off the edge of the footpath, two exquisitely carved gnomes one had a J and the other a P painted on a rust coloured jersey.
They were too heavy to pick up, so they walked on wondering why they were left there in the middle of the forest.
© Dave Timperley 11 May 2017.