Don't be out in the fog too long
Chapter Description: Don't be out in the fog too long
Don’t be out in the fog too long
To call her piss poor sense of direction an annoyance would, as far as she is concerned, be an understatement of epic proportions. Oh she knew where she was going, that wasn’t the issue, the problem was that she was lousy with knowing which direction she was going in when in unfamiliar places and now she was lost in who knows where in the ass end of nowhere and the GPS was no help, the map wasn’t any help either.
“Google maps would be a help here, if the bloody mobile could get a strong enough signal to connect to the net. Smart phone my ass” She never had this much trouble in the past. If she had an idea on where she was then she could get her bearings, but she had turned off at the wrong road because some git had messed around with the road signs and she hadn’t realised it until she found that she didn’t recognise the area.
It didn’t help that the GPS was acting up and being unhelpful, her mobile couldn’t get a strong signal and the map was useless. Where was she?
Since the road was narrow and not best for stopping at in case she blocked the road then her only choice was to keep going forward, maybe there was a town or village somewhere around here with people who could help her know where she was.
Maybe even somewhere to stay for the night since it was getting dark, somewhere to get some fuel for the car would be great as well since the tank was running low.
To her luck she starts to make out what looks to be a village not too far down the road, she didn’t recognise the place but it was better than driving around aimlessly.
Entering the village at an safe speed, she notices that the village seems pretty quiet with few people walking around. Since she needed directions then she stops and lowers the driver side window.
“Excuse me, but could you tell me where I am? I didn’t see a village name when I entered” A man around her age, fifty two years or so, same age as herself she believes, turns at the sound of her voice.
“The village doesn’t have a name, it used to but people have forgotten it. We don’t get visitors here very often” He sounded younger than his years would suggest, he also looked surprisingly healthy for his age.
“Is there a pub with a room I could rent for the night then while I try to find out where I am?” The man points over to a large building just within eye sight.
“Over there, lass, nice enough place as long as you don’t eat the stovies. The Shepard’s Pie is shifty as well, nice people though. You’ll want to get there and stay in though, you don’t want to be out while the fog is in” The fog? What was so bad about being caught in fog?
“Excuse me? Fog? Nothing harmful about that” The man looks like he’s going to laugh but thinks better of it.
“You don’t want to be out in the fog, lass, not if you plan on leaving the village once you know where you are” He doesn’t say anything more on the subject though, he just walks away for home.
“That was weird. Better see about renting a room for the night then and enquire on where I am”
Being sure she has all that she needs for the night, not that she had much with her since she hadn’t intended on being on the road for all that long, Wendy Likin enters the pub and is greeted with the expected ’Oh look, a new comer, stare and make them feel uncomfortable’ silence that she has encountered in the past when she’s gone on long road trips to new places.
She didn’t mind it since it was understandable in remote places like this, wherever here is.
“Welcome” A woman says behind the counter, she looks to be maybe a decade younger than Wendy, maybe close to two decades.
“Hello, is it possible for me to rent a room for the night while I try to figure out where I am?” The few people in the pub return to their drinks and quiet chats while Wendy approaches the bar, the air is thick with the usual pub smells of stale alcohol, smoke, sweat and possible stew.
“Not a problem, twenty for the night, another ten for breakfast if you’re wanting any” Cheap enough, she supposed.
“Sounds good, thank you” Taking the money from her purse and handing it over, Wendy sees one of the patrons looking at their watch and a flicker of fear comes over their face, were they late for supper maybe? Whatever it was they got up quickly and left the pub in a hurry.
Others do the same and within a minute or less there is only herself and the woman behind the bar left.
“Football night or something?” She asks as the woman behind the bar walks out from behind the bar.
“No, fog. Room’s up stairs, this way” Fog? What was so scary about fog? Following the woman upstairs, she is lead into a cosy looking room that looks out over the harbour not too far from the pub, a nice view in the morning most likely. That could be something to look forward to in the morning for sure.
“Bathroom’s just down the hall, second door to the right, no key needed. Be sure to clean up after yourself please. Kitchen will be open for another three hours if you’re hungry, best to stay in while the fog’s rolling in and don’t open any windows until the fog has passed” Why were these people so on edge about the fog? She wanted to know.
“What’s going on with this fog fear? Is it like that horror book The Fog?” The woman smiles, a nice smile that makes her look younger than her thirty odd years or near abouts.
“Nothing like that, no no, nothing like that. It’s just not a good idea to be out in the fog and if you’re planning on heading back out tomorrow then you really don’t want to be in the fog, I’ll be down stairs if you need anything” The woman leaves the room and Wendy sets down her makeshift night bag, she didn’t have any other clothes so she would have to make do with what she had with her. Tomorrow she would head back out on the road and try to find the way back to the road she had left, it couldn’t be all that far out surely.
Checking the softness of the bed and finding it to her liking, Wendy goes over to the modest window and looks out at the street outside, night had set in quickly and the street lights were blurry from the fog that has come in from the ocean. It had come in quickly.
“Quiet enough place I suppose, not somewhere I want to live in but it’s nice enough for a visit” For a brief second she is sure she can hear what could be a baby’s cry somewhere outside, maybe someone’s child.
“Need to find out exactly where I am before I head out tomorrow, maybe they pub owner, if she is the owner, knows the area well enough”
Finding who she presumes is the pub owner wiping one of the tables, Wendy examines her surroundings before speaking. The pub has an air of history to it and has perhaps been around for a century or two, maybe longer. There are framed photos on one wall showing various photos of villagers, fishing boats and the village itself from a distance.
The pub itself is pretty big, not exactly a city pub size but close enough. Much of the pub looks like it’s been built by hand by well trained hands, the tables and chairs look solid and well cared for as does the bar.
“Aye?” The woman asks as she looks up from the table she is wiping.
“Just wondering what the name of the village is, I didn’t see a name as I entered” The woman smiles, that nice smile again which makes her look so young.
“We don’t have a name anymore, we used to long ago but with being so remote then it was decided amongst the village folk that a name was pretty pointless when so few ever visited. The village used to be called Youngbay though, long ago. I take it you’ve never been in this area before?” Something about the woman’s voice was making her feel comfortable, almost like the way her mum would make her feel comfortable in the past, before her mum had passed away some years back.
“No, close enough I think but not in this general direction. I think I got lost due to some ass messing about with the road signs, I’m usually going back and forth between towns and cities, I rarely drop by a village as remote as this” Giving a sad nod in reply before she finishes cleaning the table, the woman indicates over to the framed photos.
“Shame that, places like this have a lot of history that tends to go unnoticed by many. This place has it’s history for sure and it’s a sad affair that it won’t be known by the wider world, the only time we even had a film crew here was some twenty years back and they got caught in the fog. Shame what happened to them, they were warned but they didn’t listen. Most who are warned never listen” The fog again, why were these people so fearful of it? It looked harmless to her from what she had seen out the window.
“I hope you’ll heed the warnings and stay in” Where was she going to go anyway? It wasn’t like she was planning on doing anything but getting some information and some sleep.
“Why are people here scared of the fog?” Better knowing if there was a reason after all.
“Because” That was not an answer.
“Because what? It’s just fog, nothing more” For a second the woman looks wistful as she looks over to one of the photos, was that wistful sadness or something else?
“Because it has an effect on you if you are out in it, some go out in it because they want the effect, some of us only go out in it if we must. But mostly we try to avoid going out in it due to the effect it has and the consequences of that effect” Vague, she wasn’t a fan of riddles and half answers.
“Care to elaborate?” The woman shakes her head, light brown hair swaying in the artificial light of the silent pub.
“Not at this time. I’m sorry that I don’t have much information for you, this is a generally peaceful and remote area with plenty of things that few who come here are ever interested in hearing. Are you hungry? I’m sure I could rustle up some food if you are” Her stomach growls as if on cue, it had been a long drive.
“Guess so, I think I ate something during the afternoon, not sure, was too focused on trying to figure out where I was” With a light nod, the woman heads through to the pub kitchen to start cooking while Wendy sits down at a table close to a window. Outside it is as dark as expected with the street light outside looking hazy in the fog, it didn’t look threatening at all, it looked liked fog.
So why were the people here so uneasy about it?
After a good meal - chicken in some kind of mildly spiced tomato sauce with lightly grilled peppers and some apple crumble for dessert – Wendy heads back to her rented room to examine her map.
Most pubs she had been in over the years were usually full or close to full at this time of night but there wasn’t anyone coming in and when she had asked why things were so quiet she had been given the answer of: “The fog” in reply.
Strange thing to be scared of.
Once back in the rented room, she looks out the map and realises that she hadn’t taken it with her, it was still in the car outside. She needed the map if she was going to figure out where she was in relation to where she had left the road she had been on before becoming lost and she stood a better chance of figuring that out without risking losing control of the car while driving.
“Should still be in the passenger seat, shouldn’t take long” Minute or two tops, not that she feared the fog but she didn’t want to know what the effect was, whatever it was. So a minute or two couldn’t hurt.
Heading downstairs quickly, she stops at the door leading out and listens for the pub owner, if she is since she hasn’t seen anyone else working here. She can hear some singing from the kitchen so she must be working.
Checking that the door isn’t locked, which it isn’t, Wendy opens it and heads outside. The night air is brisk and she can make out the silhouette of her car a couple of steps away from the door. Not far at all.
Digging out her car keys, she unlocks the door with a soft bleep from the car and opens the passenger side door, the map is right where she had left it. Picking it up and closing the door, she turns back to the pub and frowns, it seemed farther away than it did seconds ago. Maybe it was a trick of the light, the dark usually did that for her.
“Miss?” She can hear the pub owner in the pub, she must have heard the door being opened. “Miss, head in quickly!” She heads for the open door but something feels wrong, her clothes feel heavy all of a sudden and her skin is tingling. She can see the car to her right and it seems bigger, a lot bigger.
The open door seems so much farther away now and she can see the pub owner looking out towards her, she seems so much taller, she was the same height more or less, she was sure of it.
It was becoming really hard to walk now, her legs felt so unresponsive. The open door was just a couple of steps away so why was it so hard to get there? Why did it seem so far to her now?
“Hewp me!” She manages to call out, what was going on with her voice? The pub owner quickly picks her up from the pavement and heads inside, slamming the door and locking it securely. It was becoming hard to think and being in the woman’s arms was soothing to her, she felt safe.
“I did warn you, miss, you should have listened. Why did you head out despite the warnings you were given?” Wendy tries to make an arm respond, it was hard to coordinate all that well.
“A map? Miss, you could have waited until the fog was gone or asked me and I could have gotten it for you, I can withstand the fog longer than newcomers can” What was going on? What had happened to her?
Sitting her down on one of the tables, the pub owner checks Wendy over before picking her up again.
“You’re so young now, it could be a while before you grow up again. It’s becoming hard for you to concentrate, isn’t it?” Wendy nods, it was. It was like her memories were fading away and a gentle fuzzy warmth was replacing them.
“Wha hapen? Words were so hard to form, it was like she was losing the ability to speak.
“The fog is a punishment placed on the people of this village, many years ago a former land baron had angered a woman who was seeking shelter and in her anger she placed a curse on not just the land baron, but the village as well. In her anger she reduced the land baron to an infant so that he would understand the need to be helped and the fog was made to make anyone else younger so that we would all learn the same lesson in need.
I was an elderly woman when that curse was made and I was one of the first caught in the fog, that was about one hundred seventy years or near about that. After returning to adulthood I found I wasn’t getting any older than the age I am now, I could become younger if I stayed out in the fog long enough but I couldn’t get any older. So many villagers have been caught in the fog and most of us can withstand it’s effects for a while, but newcomers can’t and they become very young very quickly” This was the effect she had mentioned? So how young was she? She wasn’t a teenager or a child, that was for sure, she was much younger than that.
“Ho owd me?” Was she going to lose everything she had learned over her life?
“I would say that you’re about two years old, perhaps a little younger. You’re lucky you were already close enough to be picked up or you would be a new born or a lot younger, like that poor film crew who came here. We managed to get to a few of them in time but the others were too far gone to be saved” She was a baby? But that couldn’t be true, she still had adult thoughts although they were becoming so hard to focus on.
“You’ll have to grow up again and that will take time, some grow back over the course of a normal life span, others take longer. I’m sorry but it looks like you’ll be here to stay” No, it couldn’t be true! She had her life back home, she had her work, she needed to return to it.
She had to return to it.
She had...she had...what did she have? She couldn’t remember, all that mattered was the warmth she felt while being held so gently and lovingly in the arms of the woman holding her. Was the woman her mother?
She wasn’t sure, she didn’t even know her name. Who was she again? She was sure she had known her name just seconds ago.
“It’s okay, miss, you’re safe here. I’ll take care of you” Such a nice voice, it made her feel safe. Sleepy.
Mama will keep her safe.
So many voices cooing at her, so many faces she didn’t know. She was scared but curious as well, her mama would keep her safe though, she knew that.
“She’s so precious!” One voice says, Wendy just babbles in reply, her legs kicking happily and the softness of her thick nappy making her feel very comfortable. A hazy memory comes to her young mind, hadn’t she been a grown up before? It was hard to tell.
But that was okay since it didn’t matter, she was safe and warm and mama was close by, she could smell mama and hear her.
“So what did they do with her car?” She can hear someone ask.
“Scrapped, everything else was burned. Even if the police come here they won’t know that this cutie was a grown woman when she arrived here. We’ve gotten rid of any evidence” She didn’t understand what they were talking about, that was okay though.
“You always wanted another wee one anyway after losing yours to the fog all those years ago” She was hungry, need num nums. She starts to whimper than cry and her mama picks her up, she can smell that sweet smell that mama has before the num nums. She liked the num nums.
“Aye, just a shame that I couldn’t have warned her before this happened. Still it’s nice to be a mum again” Num nums.
Don’t be out in the fog too long.
Stories of Age/Time Transformation