Sunrise. 21st June 2018, some people celebrate the Summer solstice. Honour the old ways, and their ancestors, toast the second half of the year. Not me.
I used to, but something about the way last year went, still makes me uneasy. It’s not like anything THAT bad happened, right? I mean we are all still here, me, my wife, our daughter. I just worry. What if HE returns again. It’s possible we imagined it, too much mead, but what if…
It’s silly really. He didn’t actually do anything to us, if anything he was quite friendly. More than any of those Christian religions would have you believe.
I should start at the beginning. It was 4am on the 21st June 2017. The sky was brightening, though it was still dark enough to use a torch to avoid tripping on rocks.
We were at Appledore. We’d found a nice spot to celebrate. A quiet piece of the river bed, that, at low tide was easily accessible. Someone had placed rocks in a spiral, it must have been years ago judging by the seaweed forming on them. We had checked the tide times and found it was perfect, almost as low as it could get at sunrise.
It wasn’t far from where we were staying, maybe 15 minutes, and Appledore was the kind of place that always felt safe, with its narrow, cobbled streets.
We had just passed the lifeboat station when we noticed the fire. It wasn’t much, but enough to highlight the silhouette of a man, warming himself by it. We stopped briefly, hesitated, with a glance at each other, before proceeding cautiously. He was on OUR spot, the spiral.
‘Good morning’ he called with a gesture.
‘Er…hi?’ Said Emma
‘Come for the solstice?’ said the man
‘Yes. You too then?…er great. Nice to meet you. I’m Emma, this is Craig and Ocean’ said Emma
He never gave his name, but offered us his hand.
‘We bought mead’ said Emma
‘Oh, you’re one of those. Well never mind, that’s ok. Each to their own. I never really liked mead, but I like turning down a drink even less’
Emma handed him a drink. It was then that I noticed the smell, burning flesh. I looked into the fire and across at Emma. He caught my gaze.
‘Oh, that’s just the sacrifice’ he said ‘don’t worry, you are quite safe. I only make one. Now hand me that drink’
The rest of the morning passed without incident. We were too scared to make our excuses and leave.
‘well’ he said ‘must be off. I need to get some breakfast. Nice to meet you. Maybe see you next year?’
‘ok, bye then’ we said in unison.
As he walked off into the early morning light, his body cast a shadow. I could have sworn I could see 2 horns and a tail….