The Boy Who Lived with the Dead by Kate Ellis Read Online (FREE)
The Boy Who Lived with the Dead by Kate Ellis read online for free here.
Mabley Ridge, Cheshire –
Patience Bailey looked down at the baby asleep in her arms and wondered why she’d ever agreed to meet there in that field of the dead where graves jutted from the ground like crooked teeth, stained with lichen and darkness. It was no place for a baby … or a woman alone.
The church bell in the distance tolled ten times and on the final chime a bat swooped from a nearby yew tree and flittered close to her face. She flinched at the unexpected movement before wrapping the soft blanket tighter around the infant’s body while she murmured a familiar and comforting prayer: deliver us from evil. Over the past few years evil had overwhelmed good; evil had sent men to be slaughtered like animals in the battlefields of France in trenches they’d shovelled out with their own hands. Now they were lost forever. The world was wicked and she would do her best to defend the little one from harm, especially now that harm was so close to home.
A white marble headstone a few yards away glowed in the dim moonlight like a deformed ghost burrowing its way out of the earth and the sight of it made her shudder. She took a deep breath and carried on walking towards the agreed meeting place. She’d wanted to arrive first, to be in control, but now she feared this had been a mistake.
When the toe of her button boot met a raised patch of newly dug earth she almost tripped and she cupped the baby’s head in her hand for protection, fearing she’d accidentally stepped on a fresh grave. But the tiny mound lacked any sort of marker so she convinced herself it was probably a molehill and continued walking, softly crooning his favourite lullaby.
The shadows shifted among the cold, still gravestones and she had an uncomfortable feeling that she was being watched by unseen eyes. When she turned her head she thought she could see a pale face at the upstairs window of the small lodge by the cemetery gates but when she looked again it was no longer there so she told herself she’d imagined it.
As she made her way along the cemetery path she noticed a gaping rectangle of darkness to her left; an open grave awaiting its occupant with a small hill of soil heaped up to one side. She paused, inhaling the damp stench of newly dug earth mingled with rotting vegetation. Then she heard an urgent whispering which might have been the wind in the surrounding trees – or it might have been a human voice. Although she wasn’t sure, she gathered her courage and made for the source of the sound. She had no time for games.
‘You’re late,’ she called to the darkness with a confidence she didn’t feel.
The whispering stopped and everything was still for a few moments … until a dark shape rose slowly from behind a headstone.