The Doom of the Hollow Extra Content
The following was cut from the final edit because it didn't have any relevance to the narrative but I enjoyed writing it, so here it is.
The Jumble - Thursday 5th November, 13 Days Before Doomsday
The daydream of sitting and relaxing in the peace and quiet of his front room was interrupted by the click of the kettle indicating that, yet again, the water had boiled. Reverend Mason Gibbons leaned over the rinsed out teapot, his hands holding onto the edge of the kitchen work surface. As soon as he gathered his surroundings, and got over the fact that he was not day dreaming, he had to prise the lid from the tea jar and threw three teabags into the pot. He followed this with hot water and stirred the piping liquid until he felt a hand on his back. He turned, gave his wife, Gabby, a smile and finished making the tea. Out of habit he patted his trouser pockets and then the small pockets in his dark green cardigan whilst saying, “Milk, milk.”
“You’re not going to find it in there, try the fridge.”
Mason, turned, reached below him to the right, and opened the fridge.
“I would’ve done this for you,” said Gabby leaning against the work surface.
“I was just glad to get out of there for ten minutes.”
“That bad, huh?”
“This is the third pot, the THIRD pot, and not one of them has gone to the toilet yet. Where do they store it all?”
“Cakes as well, I’m presuming.”
“Thanks for reminding me.” Robert reached below him to the left and opened a cupboard. He took out two boxes of French Fancies and placed them on the tray with the teapot and carton of milk.
“I’d put the cakes on a plate.”
With a little less patience than before, Mason, reached above him to the left and grabbed a plate from the cupboard. After tipping the cakes from the box, he arranged them neatly around the rim of the plate. “There, happy?”
“And, I would put the milk into a proper milk jug.”
Mason glared at his sniggering wife and, without taking his eyes off her, reached above him to his right, opened the cupboard and grabbed the nearest jug.
“Not that one, it has a chip,” said Gabby trying not to giggle.
Mason banged the jug back where he found it and reached for a smaller jug located at the back of the cupboard. He made sure he clattered the smaller jug against the rest of the items in protest at the fact that he had to use a milk jug. Why couldn’t they be happy with a cardboard carton? They were before. Picking up the tray, Mason turned to walk out of the kitchen until Gabby spoke once more.
“No plates for the cakes?”
Mason turned back, and calmly placed the tray back onto the work top. Four small plates were quickly put onto the tray and he turned to walk out of the kitchen smiling sarcastically at Gabby whose innocent expression disguised her next comment.
Mason turned back and placed the tray back onto the kitchen work top a little heavier than last time causing the plates to clatter together. He grabbed a fistful of serviettes and untidily placed them on the plates.
The cutlery clashed together as Mason snatched open the drawer. Within seconds, more spoons than were required were thrown onto the tray. “Anything else?”
Gabby curled her lips over her teeth, “nope.”
As Mason entered the vicarage’s front room he was greeted with the wit of his elderly female guests. ‘Serviettes, I think he’s spoiling us’, was quickly followed by, ‘eh up ladies, we’ll get a plate EACH this time’, and, ‘oh look, this must be the first man to put the milk in a jug.”
The Jumble - Thursday 5th November, 13 Days Before Doomsday cont.
Mason was outnumbered. He had asked for volunteers from his Sunday congregations, and, subsequently, his parish, after there were not enough volunteers (volunteers being zero in this case.) to come from the advert he had put in the parish newsletter, to organise a jumble sale in aid of the church roof. In the end, Betty Snodbury, Freda Bowman and Jean Grabble, put their names forward. They always put their names forward. Mason had not been Vicar at St James Church for very long but he had quickly realised that these three women, all over the age of eighty, although, their exact ages he did not know, volunteered for everything. The three stooges was his nickname for them. A mantle that, as a vicar, he thought was harsh and not normally like him, but, after they had gossiped and chewed both his ears off, he didn’t think this nickname was totally unjustified.
Jean Grabble snatched a cake from the plate Mason was offering around the room. She ate with her mouth open and spoke through the moist crumbs, “I remember asking our, Ern, to fill the milk jug, but he heard me wrong and thought I said mug, so he comes back into the living room with the wrong vessel. I told him to leave it as it will spill and it did spill because it didn’t have a spout on it. But it was nice to have something different than a bottle even if the mug did say, ‘Lumberjacks are good with their choppers.”
“My Harold was always quite good like that,” said Freda Bowman in between blows on her steaming tea. “Every birthday and even Christmas he’d use a milk jug or the gravy boat if the milk jug needed washing up.”
“He’s sounds quite considerate,” said Betty.
“He was good to me. Did you know, we used to have our coal shed at the bottom of the yard and I used to carry the sacks of coal to the house in all weathers? Even When I was pregnant with our Lizzie I used to carry that coal from the bottom of the yard. That was until I pulled that muscle in my back, don’t you remember, Betty?”
“I do love.”
“Well, you know what my Harold did, bless his heart?”
“He moved the coal shed to nearer the back door.”
“Oh, that’s lovely, Freda,” said Jean. “Heart of gold your Harold.”
“Ladies, please.” Mason tried to steer the conversation towards the jumble sale. “Let’s discuss the…”
“Eh, I hear Irene Bredbury died last week,” said Freda, “she had a heart attack in a lift. I tell you, I’m glad I never have to go into a building with a lift.”
“What about the market? It has two levels,” said Betty.
“I shan’t be going there again. Gave me bloody vertigo anyway.”
“If we could just get back to the subject of the jumble sale.” All Mason needed was a ‘who was doing what’ schedule so he could kick the old biddies out of the house, or at least steer them out of the front door when the opportunity arose. “Actually, should we be calling it a jumble sale? It’s a bit old fashioned don’t you think?”
The room fell silent. Betty, Freda and Jean all stopped. Their chewing and drinking ceased and they stared at him as if frozen in time.
“It’s always been a jumble sale, vicar,” said Betty, her utterance being the green flag for the other two women to start eating once more.
“It’s not a white elephant stall, or a sale of work,” added Freda.
“I just thought about modernising it.” Mason’s voice started to become weaker and less assured, “I would have thought an indoor car boot sale would be more appealing. No?”
The Jumble - Thursday 5th November, 13 Days Before Doomsday cont.
Jean placed her cup on the coffee table and brushed the many crumbs from her clothes onto the carpet. “This is not an indoor car boot, vicar, honestly.” Her voice had an air of exasperation. “It’s not a white elephant, a sale of work, a rummage sale, a bazaar, a flea market, a garage sale, a bring and buy, a table top trade and it’s definitely not an American fair. It is a jumble and that’s what it’s always been and what is also on the adverts. We can’t change it now, the sale is a week on Saturday.”
Mason wished he had never suggested the change of name. “Where have you put the donations so far?”
Betty picked up another cake and spoke while peeling away the paper case. “We’ve put it all in the back vestibule. We’ve had quite a lot so far, mainly bin bags full of clothes.”
“My grandson has a van,” said Jean. “He said he will pick it all up on the Friday before and take it to the community centre.”
“Excellent.” Mason was quite pleased. It was obvious these ladies had done it all before and he did not have to do very much. They even had a key to the church, something his predecessor had allowed, and something he was currently finding very convenient even if he did not wholly agree with it. It was his first jumble sale in this parish and he was initially worried that he would have to do a lot of the organising, but the ladies, although a cacophonous assault on the senses, were obviously a well-oiled machine when it came to arranging such events. Perhaps his main duty in this matter, he thought finally relenting to the temptation of the French Fancies, was to be the keystone to the whole project, to allow the three stooges to eat his confectionary, drink his tea and take up half of his day with their tittle-tattle. He could live with a role like that, he decided, and, with his new self-confirmed position, sat back and wondered if there were any more cakes left in the pantry.
The Jumble - Friday 13th November, 5 Days Before Doomsday
Betty Snodbury stood in the rear vestibule of St James Church holding a clipboard and pen. She was making an inventory of all of the jumble sale donations, or at least what was in each black bin bag. The operation was slick, or as slick as it could be with three pensioners and Betty’s grandson. It was very simple, Freda and Jean opened up each bag, shouted its contents to Betty who wrote them down on her clipboard, before letting her grandson carry it out to his white van. The loose items, the donations that were too big or too awkward a shape to fit into a bin bag, had already been logged and placed onto the van. With Betty’s grandson shifting it all on his own, he had trouble with the dining table and set of six chairs, the Wurlitzer and a stuffed dog, which would not ordinarily be a problem, but the expressionless Great Dane, had proved to be heavier and more cumbersome than he had envisaged.
“A bag of, oh dear, God,” Freda coughed as the smell from the bag’s contents hit her nostrils.
“What is it, Freda?” asked Betty.
“This one smells like my attic.”
“Clothes is it?”
“Yes, clothes, no hangers.”
Betty made a note while Freda dragged the bag nearer to the back door of the church. Betty’s grandson arrived at the door.
“That one next,” said Betty pointing at the bag Freda had just opened.
Betty’s grandson leaned over and put his hands on his knees, “give me a minute, gran.”
“I thought you were fit, my lad.”
“I am, there’s a lot of stuff here and I’ve loaded the van two thirds full already.”
Betty looked over the rim of her thick brown rimmed glasses. “Did you know, Sunshine, that Mrs Boothroyd over in Harper Street, the one with callipers on both legs, still takes her dog out three times a day? Now that’s commitment, so get cracking.” She made a waving motion with her pen and watched her grandson pick up Freda’s bin sack.
“Pots and pans,” said Jean.
Betty looked over towards Jean, “Eh?”
“Pots and pans in this one, I could do with another milk pan myself.”
Betty nodded, “Take it Jean.”
Jean picked out a small pan from the bag and quickly inspected it. “Oh no, I’m not having this, it’s not been washed.”
“The dirty beggars,” said Freda.
Betty looked at the remaining ten bags, they were nearly done. “What’s in that bag next to you, Freda love?”
Freda opened it up. “Oh, it’s those thingies, you know, they play music. BDs”
“You mean CDs.”
“That’s what I said, wasn’t it?”
“You said BDs.”
Jean stood up as straight as her rounded shoulders would let her and massaged her lower back. “Is all of this going?”
“Yes,” said Betty, “We’re nearly there, just these last few bags.”
Freda walked into the small room to her left. “What about all this stuff, Bets?”
“What’s in there?” replied Betty tilting her head so she could hear her reply.
“A few games, some tins from the harvest festival, hymn books, prayer sheets and this CD.”
“We can take the CD,” suggested Betty. “Just put it with the others in that bag.”
Freda left the small room with the CD and two concealed tins of peaches from the harvest festival leftovers. She placed the CD into the bag and tried to move it closer to the door until Betty’s grandson entered the vestibule.
“Careful, Mrs Bowman, let me take that.”
“You are a good lad. Are you helping us with the sale tomorrow?”
“Helping you? It’s my bloody van, Mrs B.”
“Oh yes, I’d forgotten about that.” Freda laughed at her own stupidity and certainly not at the fact that she had just caused a great inconvenience to the Reverend Gibbons.
The Jumble - Sunday 15th November, 3 Days before Doomsday
Mason stood in the room that adjoined the rear vestibule thinking about where on earth he had put the CD with the church bells on. He checked his watch; it was 8:45am. The service was at 9:00am and he had to find the CD within the next five minutes otherwise there would be no bells at all. He rummaged again through the hymn books, the prayer sheets, the harvest festival leftovers, of which he was convinced were two tins of peaches short, and the children’s board games. He had even dragged the cupboards away from the walls to see if the CD had dropped behind them. As 8:50am arrived he decided it was a lost cause and had to give up on the idea.
A quick change in to his robes meant he wasn’t too late in arriving at the main doors to greet the small congregation as they arrived. “No bells today, Vicar?” Major Dudley’s voice was deep and rasping.
Mason shook the Major’s short fingered, rough skinned hand. “Not today, Major. Technical problems.”
“You never used to get technical problems back in the day. You should never have taken the bells out.”
Mason smirked, “if I would have been here back in the day, Major, I would’ve petitioned to keep them.”
“Happen you would, lad.”
The Major walked into the church and before Mason could focus on the next person his hand was suddenly grasped by something soft, cold and clammy.
“Mrs Bowman, good. Just the person I wanted to see.”
“We haven’t totted up the tea and biscuit takings yet, but we made four-hundred and thirty-seven pounds and eighty-three pence.”
“That’s not bad for a jumble sale.”
“Third highest in my life time.”
“Excellent work, Mrs Bowman.”
Freda’s wrinkled skin flushed a little. “You’re welcome, vicar.”
“Tell me,” Mason leaned over slightly, “you didn’t take the compact disc with the church bells on it, did you?”
“Is that why we’ve got no bells this morning?”
“I don’t know, where did you leave it?”
“In the side room, on top of the CD player, next to the harvest festival left overs.”
“Oh,” Freda lifted her hand to her mouth. Her worried expression told Mason everything he needed to know.
“Easy mistake, Mrs Bowman. Don’t panic.”
“I am so sorry, Vicar.” She clasped both hands around his.
“Did you sell it?”
“We sold all but two of the BDs.”
“All but two?”
“We had a collector come and he bought the lot for a fiver.”
“The lot? There must have been about two hundreds CDs.”
“Betty was on the stall, but she claimed there were two he said he would never listen to, and no one else bought them. I’m not surprised really, they looked really boring.”
“Seventy minutes of church bells, I’m not surprised. But that’s great news. What was the other one? Oh never mind, where are they?”
“Betty’s grandson took what was left to her house. I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” Freda firmed her grip around his hands and shook them; “I’ll pop them back on Wednesday morning when I come to do the flowers.”
“An excellent plan, Mrs Bowman.”
The Jumble - Wednesday 18th November, Doomsday
The early nights had settled in and it was already dark when Mason opened the large doors to the church. He left them unlocked as he made his way across the vestibule and switched on the lights. The interior of the church illuminated and it was as if that was the cue for the scent of Mrs Bowman’s flowers to radiate their scent. He smiled at how beautiful the church would look for tomorrow’s three baptisms and walked to the side room in the rear vestibule to collect a handful of prayer sheets for the evening’s prayer, stitch and chat. After picking up a dozen sheets, which he knew would be far more than he would need, he checked the harvest festival leftovers which were missing a tin of steak in gravy and a tin of chopped tomatoes. His thoughts went to Mrs Bowman, shook his head and laughed at the thought of the pilfering old biddy.
“I’ll have to keep a closer eye on that one.”
His laughter soon turned to despondency as his eyes noticed the only CD Mrs Bowman had left. He picked it up and opened the case.
“Slade’s greatest hits? What does she mean no one wanted to buy this?” Placing the case on top of the player he noticed a second CD case next to a couple of tins of sweet-corn and thought once again of the light fingered old dear. He picked up the case and sighed with relief at the familiar picture of church bells on the cover, but his relief was short lived at the empty case stared back at him.
“Where in God’s name?” Mason quickly looked around the small room without success.
He wondered how he was going to get a CD of church bells by Sunday when a deep moaning entered the air. It was feint, like the hum of a distant generator, but his heart jumped at the ever increasing number of screams that accompanied it. Who’s screaming? What the hell is that noise? Mason closed the CD and put it on top of the compact disc player next to Slade’s greatest hits. It was then he heard the opening of the main doors echo around the vast expanse of the building.
“Hello?” Mason stepped towards the door of the rear vestibule. He suspected it was one of the three stooges. “Mrs Bowman, is that you?”
No one answered, only the low drone and the distant screams filled the church.
Mason stepped out into the nave and started to walk behind the rows of pews.
“Mrs Snodbury, are you there?”
He took a couple more steps until he reached the stone font that was the centre piece of the small baptistery at the rear of the building. Then he heard it, a voice, soft and dull, like a child’s voice slowed to almost a slur.
Mason whispered under his breath, “What the hell is going on?”
He turned to look behind him and found himself staring deep into the dark sunken eyes of a tall, dark skinned figure. Its fingers were rolling, its mouth uttering the one word over and over.
In pure terror, Mason, fell backwards. The creature took a step closer to him. On all fours, he started to back away from the threatening figure.
“Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.” Mason’s voice trembled in fear. “Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray.” He felt a power resurge his voice and he began to bellow the prayer. “And do thou, Oh Prince of the Heavenly Host, by God’s power, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander the world seeking the ruin of souls.”
The figure continued to creep closer, its long, sharp fingers raised. Mason could not back away any more. He thought he had reached the legs of a table or a chair, but as he looked behind him, the tall, slender figure of a second figure loomed over his frame, its fingers poised, its lament synchronised with the creature approaching him. Before he could finish saying ‘amen’, the second creature thrust its fingers into his face.
The devil had come for him. Doomsday had arrived in the shape of the Hollow. All of his prayers, his faith, his devotion to God could not stop the creature from draining away his life.