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    Flight Path.

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    carousal


    Posts : 6
    Join date : 2010-10-22

    default Flight Path.

    Post by carousal on Sat Oct 30, 2010 9:46 am

    Note: After returning from overseas I served the last few months of my army service in much the same circumstances as this. Although I never experienced any paranormal happenings, these old deserted buildings were not a place you wanted to roam around after sunset, there was certainly an aura that surrounded them.

    This is pretty long so I have divided into three chapters and avoided long descriptive passages to make for easier reading. I hope you enjoy.




    Flight Path.



    Temporary quarters that’s what they told us, in the truth we were baggage, unwanted on voyage. The reason for our excommunication was that we were seen as a threat, a virus. The four of us, at the tag end of our service, were unwelcome in the structured regimentation of new recruits. We were left over pieces of a jigsaw that wouldn’t fit, and with only a few months to go before we were thrust out into the wide world, it wasn’t worth the effort.

    Our home, we dubbed it The Hilton, was outside the camps parameters on the edge of an old disused Second World War airfield, one of many scattered across the Suffolk countryside. The Hilton had the basic facilities of water and electricity and little else.
    What the small breeze block building had been initially used for we had no idea. The remaining old airfield buildings, a couple of hangers and admin block, were on the far side of the airfield three quarters of a mile away, the control tower stood by itself further to the north.

    We had a reason for being there; in army parlance there had to be a reason for everything it didn’t have to be relevant, just so as it looked good on paper. So, we were the airfields resident guard. What we were supposed to be guarding it from was never made clear. The only occupants were a few nomadic sheep which we decided posed no immediate threat to the safety of the realm or to the good citizens of Suffolk.

    After a few days of trekking forwards and backwards to the army camp for our meals we came to an arrangement to draw our rations three times a week and feed ourselves. True, we only had the pot bellied stove for heat but we weren’t fussy as we wanted to be alone and left alone.
    ---------------
    The sun had set around five thirty on that Thursday evening; our funds were low so a trip to the Horse and Hounds was out of the question. Bored, with hands in pockets I wandered through the deserted rooms at the back of the building. A broken window banged repeatedly like a drummer who had lost the beat, the fading light through the missing roof tiles fell on slimy walls, the smell of damp and mould was everywhere.

    The last room was larger than the rest with double doors at one end which told me that this was originally the main entrance. I walked over to an old desk that still stood in one corner. On a notice board hung on the wall above there was what looked like a poster held in place by two drawing pins. I brushed off the years of dirt and grime and grinned.
    A red haired girl in a green skin tight dress leant provocatively against a bar. Beware of VD it warned, below which someone had scrawled ‘Don’t care if I do go blind’


    Back in what served us as a kitchen, sleeping quarters and rest room, I sat down and lit the last cigarette of the day.
    Chatwin was reading, a large man, heavy shouldered with an air of careless authority about him when he chose to use it.
    Crawford, thin, plagued with acme which had lasted past his teen years, was writing yet another letter to his girl friend.
    Danny a product of the East End slums, a small, bouncy cockney, sometimes the comedian, sometimes a pain in the arse, was sitting on his bunk swinging his legs.

    “I wonder if this base was American or ours.” I asked.
    “Dunno” said Danny “Could have been either”
    “It was ours” answered Chatwin, not looking up from his book.
    “How do you know?”
    Chatwin sighed and turned down the page corner.
    “I asked in the village, they flew Stirling’s and Lancs.”
    Danny grinned.
    “I wonder if it’s haunted.”
    “What?”
    “Well some of these old airfields are, I read about it”
    “Don’t be stupid”
    “No he’s right” said Chatwin. “Actually there are many accounts of paranormal activities on these old airfields, including this one”
    “You’re joking”
    “No apparently---
    Crawford flung down his pen
    “Will you shut up about bloody ghosts?”
    “Why, you scared?” grinned Danny
    Chatwin reopened his book.
    “No he’s right, better leave it”

    I wandered over to the window. In the fading twilight the old hangers were silhouetted black on the horizon. I shivered; it was as though they were waiting, for what?

    ------------------------------------------
    Flight Path PART 2

    On Saturday, with our funds refreshed, Chatwin and I walked the half mile to the pub.
    Crawford was away on a week end pass; Danny was drinking in the village.
    The Coach and Horses stood alone on the Forditch road with only the winter stubble fields for company. True to its name it was an old a coaching inn which in the past was where fresh horses were harnessed and the passengers provided with refreshment.

    I pushed open the door and nodded to the two dominoes players by the bottle glass window. As Chatwin made his way to the bar I moved over to the table by the side of the open hearth and sat down by the fire which was laid and lit on the first of October and stayed lit till the first of May. I scratched the back of Sophie’s neck; the old black Labrador stretched out her paws on the spark scarred rug and acknowledged me with a sleepy wag of her tail.

    Chatwin set the two pints of ale on the table and sat down.
    I looked round.
    “Quiet tonight” I said
    “If you wanted a party you should have gone to the Drayman’s in the village with Danny, Karaoke night isn’t it?”
    “Do me a favour, Danny, legless murdering ‘My Way’ for the third time; no thanks”
    I opened a packet of Players and we smoked and drank in silence.
    There was no denying it, the ‘Old Horse’ as the regulars dubbed it was definitely a man’s pub, not that the ladies were excluded by order, just that there was nothing in the place that appealed to them. A watering hole, a place of refuge, with its ambience of wood and tobacco smoke mixed with the smell of strong ale that set the stage for conversation and beery nostalgia.
    “What did you hear in the village?”
    “About what?”
    “The airfield”
    Chatwin shrugged.
    “Oh not much, aircraft noises, lights at night, that sort of thing”
    “We’ve never heard anything”
    “True”
    The bar was filling up. Farming folk mostly, wind chilled faces, work rough clothes with the smell of the land on them.
    I stubbed the cigarette butt.
    “It scared Crawford though
    “Yeah, a bit strange that don’t you think”
    “Ah just scared of spooks I suppose” I replied.
    “No it’s more than that”
    “How do you mean?”
    “Have you noticed how he goes out of the way to avoid being alone?”
    I tossed another log on the fire watching the flying sparks, a firework show in miniature.
    “As I said, he’s scared”
    Chatwin shrugged and drained his beer.
    I collected the empty glasses.
    “There’s one thing though. I get this feeling that the damned place is--well, sort of waiting”
    He stared at me.
    “You have that feeling too”


    It was late Monday afternoon when a Landrover drew up to the side door.
    “Visitors” cried Danny “Put the kettle on Crawlie”
    “Get stuffed”
    A vision appeared in the doorway immaculate uniformed with cut throat creases and two shiny stripes on his arms.
    “Ooh! a real soldier” squealed Danny “Isn’t he lovely?”
    “Cut it out; get in the Rover you lot, you’re wanted over in headquarters”
    “Can’t love” minced Danny “I’ve got a bun in the oven”
    “Get in the bloody Rover”

    The admin. Sergeant surveyed us over horn rimmed glasses.
    “Ah, the Four Musketeers; I have a job for you”
    “Apart from guarding sheep you mean” said Chatwin
    “Oh I just love comedians, well try this for size. The old hangers on the airfield, you have noticed them I trust, their big and black and in the second one, that’s the one with a big number Two painted on it, there are a few drums of paint oh and about ten drums of nasty toxic stuff, you can’t miss them they have Toxic Handle with Care stencilled on them.
    Well, they need shifting because they have been deemed a fire risk. So here you are Hardy take this chit down to the MT compound for a Three Tonner. I would get an early start tomorrow; the pick up truck is due at midday”

    I drove back to the Hilton and put the kettle on the stove. Crawford sat on his bunk with his head in his hands.
    “What’s up Crawlie” I asked him
    “I can’t go”
    “What?”
    “You bloody deaf? I said I’m not going”
    Chatwin pulled up a chair.
    “ Hadn’t you had better tell us about it lad?”
    Crawford looked up; there were tears in his eyes.
    “Ok. I suppose I had better tell someone it’s getting me down”
    “Ooo, I love stories” said Danny
    “Shut your mouth and make the tea” Chatwin told him

    “My dad and mum split when I was five, I never saw my dad for years but you know how it is; well I was about seventeen and it was really getting to me, I just had to find him. Mum had re-married and she never talked about him, but I traced his sister who told me that he had been in a nursing home in Basingstoke for years. Well that wasn’t true it was a Mental Home not a nursing home. I found him in the summer house, told him who I was and he seemed to accept it, we talked for a while and he seemed ok but I found out later that it happened to be one of his good days.
    Crawford’s voice broke and he fumbled in his pocket for a handkerchief.
    “Take your time lad”
    ”Dad was in the air force in the war, aircrew, a navigator on Lancs. He had flown fourteen missions then on the next one it happened. The truck had stopped next to the plane the crew got out and walked over to it”.

    ”Son”, he told me “my bloody legs froze I couldn’t move, I was shaking all over.”
    They had to send the truck back for a replacement, the only navigator available was a nineteen year old kid just out of training school, they never made it back”

    Danny handed round the tea, for once without a word.
    ”Dad stared into space, his lips, quivering, dribbling like”
    ”They never found them son, but I know where they are, oh yes I know, I get this dream see, over and over, I’m with them in the Lanc, they don’t see me but I’m there alright. The bombing run, the worst part straight and level, bombs gone, and then the night fighter finds them. Bloody terror, I hear Bill screaming in the upper gun turret. The skipper puts the Lanc into a corkscrew then levels out. The engines sound ok but the Nav gear is all shot up, so no homing beacon. But no worries just a case of dead reckoning, after all England’s too bloody big to miss, but the kid screws up. They cross the coast and out to sea but it’s not the Channel it’s the North Sea.

    Crawford looks up at us.
    “Dads crying now, tears running down his cheeks, I wipe his eyes”.
    ”On and on until the petrol gauges are reading empty, no choice but to ditch. If they can inflate the dingy there’s still hope but the bomb bay doors are locked open, the hydraulics smashed by cannon shells. She sinks like a stone, the screams, oh the bloody screams. The skipper turns in his seat the water is now up to his waist. He sees me. You bastard”

    Crawford dropped his head into his hands.
    “That was the last time I saw him. A week later he was dead, he’d slashed his wrists with a razor”.
    We had listened in silence, which now it was over no one wanted to break, after a minute or two Chatwin stood up.

    “That’s tough lad, bloody tough but its over now, try and forget it mate”
    Crawford stared at him.
    “You don’t get do you” He shouted “This was dad’s old station, he flew from here, all those years ago” he pointed to the window “Out there”
    He flung his mug at the stove it bounced twice and rolled under Danny’s bunk
    Chatwin caught him in his arms.
    “Take it easy lad”
    “Its dad’s dream, every damn detail clear as day” he looked up at Chatwin, Don’t you see dad’s dream, it's become mine”

    ----------------------------------
    Chapter Three

    I woke that morning to the sound of Danny’s snoring. The last thing I remembered the previous night was Chatwin and Crawford talking softly together. I kicked Danny into life, grabbed a towel and went to the small washroom. The old gas boiler had broken down again I washed and shaved in cold water.
    Outside the morning mist was fast developing into a fog. The red eyed sun in a matter of minutes had become a fading blush in the eastern sky.
    We ate a silent breakfast and cleared away the plates and cutlery.
    “We better make a move, the fogs getting pretty thick out there” I said.
    Chatwin turned to Crawford.
    “You stay here mate, we can manage”
    “No, I’ve changed my mind.” said Crawford “I’m not bloody stopping here alone”
    “You sure? Ok, come on”

    Somehow we all four wedged ourselves into the Bedford’s cab. I switched on and stabbed the starter. The headlights were useless, their beam reflecting off the wall of fog that had reduced visibility to no more than a few yards. I wound down the side window and took a line from the edge of the perimeter track which led straight to the hangers and engaged the gears.

    If anything the fog grew thicker as we crawled across the airfield, I gave a sigh of relief when the dim shapes of the hangers appeared out of the gloom. I reversed the truck to the massive doors, switched off the engine and applied the brake.

    It took our combined muscle to slide one door open along the rusted runner, the fog followed us into the cavernous interior. Broken power cables hung down from the roof high above us like hangman’s ropes. Water drips bounced off the oil stained concrete floor. I felt like an intruder, this place should have been left to its memories.

    Chatwin broke the spell.
    “Come on lets get on with it”
    The oil drums were fortunately stacked by the side wall near to the open door. We began to roll them out and onto the Bedford. After twenty minutes of hard sweaty labour Chatwin called a halt and handed round the cigarettes. We leant against the tailgate and smoked in silence.

    I think that I heard it first. The slow regular beat of aero engines somewhere out to the east. The engine note changed as if the aircraft was banking, louder, the cigarette dropped unnoticed from my hand I was aware that someone was whimpering close by.

    Sweet Jesus it’s coming in to land, but how in this fog and on a runway that was now just a stretch of ruptured tarmac.
    The black bulk bust into view scarcely sixty feet above us. the deafening roar of the four Merlin’s, red navigation lights winking through the fog, the landing gear lowered, and the twin Vickers machine guns pointing skywards from upper gun turret. Then it disappeared into the fog. I waited for the crash but instead there was nothing but silence and the fog.

    “You Ok?” it was Chatwin. I nodded not trusting myself to speak.
    “Come on we better find the others”
    Danny was hiding under the Bedford, he had wet his pants. There was no sign of Crawford. We waited for fifteen minutes.
    “Maybe he’s gone back to the Hilton”
    “Yeah well it’s a fair bet he won’t be coming back here”

    Wherever Crawford was he wasn’t at the Hilton
    “Pack you’re gear” said Chatwin
    We looked at him
    “Well do you want to stay here after that?”
    We collected our kit, put it in the Bedford and drove to the camp. After an interview with the Regimental Sergeant Major we were assigned a billet for the night and were posted the following day. Danny to a signals unit on the outskirts of London, Chatwin and I to a tank maintenance depot about fifty miles away from the army camp.
    The British Army doesn’t encourage speculation or rumours about anything that can’t be painted or rendered unserviceable with a few well aimed rounds.


    It was about a week later when I retuned from the canteen to find Chatwin sitting on his bunk, beside him was the local paper.
    “They found Crawford”
    “Found him?”
    “In the river a couple of days after we left”
    “Christ”
    “An old boy taking his dog for a walk found the body snagged under a tree root”
    I collapsed on my bunk.
    “Poor sod, I suppose he lost his way in the fog and fell in”
    “Maybe, but you’re forgetting the Lanc”
    “What about it?”
    “Well it’s a bit odd don’t you think, Crawford and the crew all drowned?”
    Chatwin got up and walked to the door.
    “It was no accident friend, they came back for him. Sins of the father”
    He went out closing the door behind him.




    Footnote.

    These old airfields of WW2 are still to be found in the flatlands of East Anglia, I have added a site which gives more info if you are interested.

    [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

    And this one of an a little church in the county of Norfolk which may interest our American friends.

    [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


    As time passes less and less remains of these airfields but all are remembered by memorials to those of both our countries who gave their lives for our tomorrows.













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    Harklight


    Posts : 77
    Join date : 2010-10-13

    default Re: Flight Path.

    Post by Harklight on Sun Oct 31, 2010 2:26 pm

    Yes, I did enjoy it, Cari. My dad mentioned similar strange events at abandoned airfields. I like the way this story unfolds. Each of the three chapters addresses different aspects, gradually revealing more tension, which helps to sustain interest. Some of the sentence structure could be improved: like breaking long sentences into shorter related phrases. Discussions all need inverted commas and punctuation to show when one person begins and ends speaking. Try to be aware of "you're" (ie you are) in lieu of "your". Happily, you avoided introducing too many characters: readers could relate to each of them. The empathy shown is a fine aspect in your story.
    If you'd like ideas on punctuation for this writing, please tell me and I'll move the piece to Peer Review for grammar suggestions. H x
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    Armchair Queen


    Posts : 34
    Join date : 2010-10-17

    default Re: Flight Path.

    Post by Armchair Queen on Wed Jan 05, 2011 7:40 pm

    I really enjoyed your story. It reminds me of some stories by Roald Dahl, when he was in the RAF, a Japanese animation set on an airbase, and the Twilight Zone.
    I like the way you increased the eeriness little by little.
    I also had to double check whether I was reading fiction, or non-fiction.
    Also, great names!
    There is one typo, that I noticed, Crawford is plagued with acne not acme.
    Armchair Queen


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