I was busy at work when I received the telegram from my brother that another hapless soul had disappeared from behind the cottage in Eon’s Creek. Nobody had heard anything despite the corner store being not that far away; and overlooking the bubbling, clear creek itself.
Clearing the next week of meetings and anything else I had on, I packed a small bag and my pagan case I had taken with me from my parent’s house and drove back home.
Eon’s Creek was behind Grandma’s cottage which was across the road from William’s place on the quiet street. As I pulled up outside his house and turned off the engine, I sat staring at the old, rundown place. We had tried to sell it a number of times without success and it ended up being boarded up and left to rot.
William stood on the footpath as I popped the boot of my car from inside and then reached over to the front passenger seat and grabbed my bag before getting out of the car. My brother had grabbed my pagan case from the boot for me and closed it down gently.
“So, when was the last disappearance?” I asked pressing the tab on the keys for the central locking and hearing the comforting ‘chunk’ from inside the car.
Walking back onto the footpath, he frowned, “That’s not exactly what I meant. Come inside and I’ll show you.”
I had a million questions but decided to wait until he showed me what was going on. And when he opened the door to his house, I had forgotten what I was going to say when I took in the sight of a young man sitting staring at the empty fireplace, “He’s not gone.”
“Yes he is.” He nodded, “Physically he’s here, but mentally he’s not here.”
I waved my hand in front his face and young man slowly reacted to me, looking up at me – staring – with an expression in his eyes that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I involuntarily took a step back, “Woah.”
“Yeah, his soul’s gone.” William whispered.
“Has he spoken to you?”
The young man by the fireplace sneered, “I speak.” His eyes met mine again and my mouth went dry, “I went to cottage across the road and heard the creek.”
“You can’t hear it from the road.” I said.
“That’s not what I mean.” He looked back at the fireplace, much to my relief, and continued to tell me what happened, “I heard it talk to me. It told me to come here a story.”
William and I exchanged shocked expressions. We had heard this story before: the creek enticed its victims by its side with a story, and once they were close enough by its banks, a fog rose up quickly… so quick, you’d lose your bearings… then the next thing you knew, the water rose fast, running quickly and strong! But by then, the victim would have passed out from panic or slipped on the rocks and hit their head. Rarely would a victim come back to tell the story. Eon’s Creek would engulf them – body and soul – to feed upon them for years before claiming somebody else.
But it had been over a decade since our Grandmother had cast her powerful spell on the creek to keep it from harming anyone. So, something – or somebody – had done something to break that spell and caused the creek to feed again. Now, don’t get me wrong, this creek isn’t a place of bad omens, or Devil worship; no it goes well back into history. It’s a creek that has been around for over three hundred years and has seen its fair share of development, war and death over that time; so it’s only fair for a place like this to have its own history – kind of like a haunted house or building has theirs.
“You’re the first person I thought of, Jane.” My brother said, “You’re the only one the creek won’t mess with.”
“Okay.” I nodded, “I’ll find out what the hell went haywire.” I took my case from William and went out the front door, across the road and onto Grandmother’s land. Within my mind, the old chants started up straight away – the ones Grandma had taught me to keep the creek from harming me if I ever needed to work a spell this strong – and I kept walking down the side of the cottage. When I arrived into the back garden, I found immediately what had occurred: the oak tree which was used in the last spell had been chopped down by the council. It had been a major part of the spell to stop the creek from feeding. Turning from the creek, I started to hear it: ‘Come by my side, come and hear a story, Jane… just for you…’
Looking down at my feet, I saw the mist swirling around my ankles. It had been waiting for me, “No.” I walked away from the enticing sounds of the creek as it sang and twitter along the trees. But I had an idea that might work, I just had to clear it with William first.
“Burn the place down? Are you nuts!” he shouted at me.
“It’s not just enticing people on the property anymore, it tried to keep me from leaving! And it knew me by name!” I retorted, “And oak isn’t there anymore – that’s why the spell is broken. The damned council chopped it down because the damned tree died!”
“Oh shit.” He said, “We do have to burn down the house.”
“It has no value anymore, so let’s do it tonight, and the creek will free everyone’s souls and it’ll just be a creek again… a normal one.”
It was around midnight when William and I set Grandma’s house on fire… we didn’t wait for it to be fully lit, instead, we watched it from his place as it burned to the ground. And incredibly, we both saw the mist rise from the roof and creek into the atmosphere. I watched carefully the man in William’s house look from the fireplace to us and frown, “I’d like to know where I am.”
“You’re safe.” William said smiling.
The man stood slowly and I noticed his clothes didn’t fit him. The sleeves slid up his arms showing a tattoo of a barcode – the way prisoners are tracked these days which fades when they’ve served their time. This one was fresh and still healing, “Yes, I’m safe, but you’re not.”