Tuesday, 29 September 2009


On a Tuesday on Dark Bits (http://howardhopkins.blogspot.com) Howard runs a series called Terror Tuesday. The point of this is to promote the horror novel that, like the western, is disappearing from the shelves.
Last week was about ghost stories and invited readers of his blog to mention their encounters - so here we go:

The Summer Of '69

The first week of July '69 my fiancee, Sandra, and I went to Minehead in Somerset for a week before joining up with her mum and dad for the second week.
We spent our time roaming through Somerset and Devon or just lazing on the beach.
One of our roams took us to Dunster Castle but what intrigued me was the tower on the opposite hill.
It was quite a hot day and the sky was cloudless so we ambled through the town passing by the old Yarn Market. Eventually, we found a track that took us onto some open farmland. Unfortunately, there was no way into the woods of Conyger Hill as it was surrounded by a barbed wire fence.
This was no deterent to someone who wanted to know more.
So we ducked through the strands and followed a narrow path up to the tower.
The tower is a folly built by the Luttrell family to resemble the ruins of a castle.
Anyway Sandra posed for a photo within the ruins of the sun-dappled walls of the tower. By then she was feeling a bit chilly and wished that she had brought a cardigan with her. I had to admit that it had, suddenly, grown a hell of a lot cooler and a breeze had begun to build up.
I looked up and noticed that the tops of the trees were bending. The sky, too, had clouded up. Very dark - very grey.
With it came an atmosphere - a tangible evil.
And a sound - a sound of drumming mixed with rattling metal.
It was scary and we were both running downhill as fast as our legs would carry us.
Sandra kept going - but I stopped. Don't ask why - but I did and turned around.
Coming through the trees were what seemed like hundreds of dark vague shapes. It was as though an army was coming after us.
And then we were through the fence into the blinding sunlight of a hot July day.
We stood in the middle of the field and looked back at the hill and said out loud: "What the hell was that?"

We had encountered the leper mercenary army.
Back during the English Civil War the Roundheads had laid seige to Dunster. Conyger Hill would have been a good strategic point for Captain Blake's artillery. But Cromwell had an uneasy feeling when climbing the hill and decided against it. I guess I know why.
But here we are forty years on and both Sandra and I still recall that day.
Neither of us have a clue about who this army is. Certainly, pre-dates the building of the folly which was built in 1775 and the English Civil War.
Back in '69 there were references to a leper army or mercenaries but they were vague. Since then nothing that explains anything more.
Of one thing I am certain - we are not the only people to experience this.

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