The Moonlit Traveller

Carry On Tuesday has a great prompt this week. It’s an excerpt from Walter De La Mare’s The Listeners.

Here ’tis:

‘Is there anybody there?’ said the Traveller.

Knocking on the moonlit door.


Here’s my bit:

They knew he was coming long before his footsteps sounded on the empty road, long before they could see the shadow he cast in the moonlight.

‘Grundy’s rattling his chain,’ Eunice said.

‘I know it,’ Ida said.

They looked at the bolt on the cellar door, reinforced with extra wood and the old lever from the wagon. They had little need for the wagon any more; Grundy had ripped the throat clean out of their old horse. They wondered how long the bolt would hold if the Traveller passed by, if Grundy smelled the tang of fresh blood.

‘Hardly a soul passes by these parts when the moon is full,’ Eunice said.

‘I know it,’ Ida said.

‘Must be lost,’ Eunice said.

‘He will be,’ Ida said.

The moon threw her silver, seductive light right between the shutters clamped to the windows. Fingers slipped through, caressing the floor. There was a whimper from the cellar, a shout.

‘Let me out, sisters. Let me loose.’

‘Never,’ Eunice said. ‘Not while the moon is full.’

Ida said nothing. She was loading a shotgun full of silver bullets.

‘Aim low,’ Eunice said. ‘Miss the heart.’ She still loved her brother in spite of everything, in spite of being a slave to the cycles of the moon.

‘The shots will land where they will,’ Ida said. She was less sentimental about a brother who was more beast than man, who howled in rhythm with the moontides and the winds that brushed the faded seagrass.

They heard the footsteps of the Traveller as he paused at the well where Ida threw spare pennies, dreaming of princes with specks of gold in their hair. His coat rustled in the breeze like silk.

The moon was full in the sky. Grundy began to howl.

The footsteps approached the house. Eunice saw the Traveller. Elegant in navy blue with a crisp white collar. He had a felt hat perched on his head and a jaunty red scarf.

The cellar door began to shake.

‘He’s going to get out,’ Ida said. ‘Do something.’

A knock sounded at the door. Once. Twice. Thrice. Eunice and Ida did not dare breathe. Ida aimed the gun at the cellar door.

‘Is anybody there?’ said the Traveller, knocking on the moonlit door.

The cellar door shook again, imploding. The room was full of splintered wood and hairy limbs; blood, bellowing, confusion. The front door was opened. The cold night air swept into the room.

Eunice screamed. Ida shot blindly in the dark. The Traveller lay crumpled on the doorstep, his throat ripped out. His jaunty red scarf hung in the gorse bushes, dripping with blood and bone.

Grundy was crouched below the moon, a supplicant. His teeth gnashed, ripping at the air. Specks of blood landed on blades of seagrass, sliding slowly. He loped off, a wolf in the shadows.

‘He’ll be back,’ Eunice said.

‘Nothing surer,’ Ida said.

They looked at the Traveller who would travel no more.

They sighed. They were imprisoned by moonlight.

‘Better get rid of the body,’ Eunice said.

‘I’ll fetch the shovel,’ Ida said.

{*Image by mimulux at DeviantART.}

20 thoughts on “The Moonlit Traveller

  1. JOSIE:
    So glad you liked it!

    Sadly, the poor Traveller was indeed out of luck. Don’t go travelling by moonlight, I say!

    It’s hard to avoid the gore where werewolves are involved!

    I’m glad you liked that. I just wanted to show how commonplace it was for the sisters to consider their brother mauling someone to death. I thought the dialogue highlighted that. Cheers!

    I don’t know what’s happened to the smileys. I had one with a very cheesy grin yesterday!

    Thanks so much. I appreciate the visit!

    Chilling and threatening – that’s exactly what I was after. I’m so glad I got there!

    It is my duty to occasionally give you the heebies. Werewolves do it for me too. There is something so menacing about them.

    That is one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. Thanks, hon.

    There is something rather delicious about being scared. Sometimes I can’t resist a good scare!

    I hope your dreams are werewolf free. Thanks so much for the visit!


  2. MELEAH:
    Sorry to spook you. I know you don’t like the scary ones so much!

    Can you imagine if you were held prisoner by the moon? You could never escape. Yikes. Now I’m scaring myself!


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