Sir Simon’s Well
by Jennifer Walmsley
Deep in its dark waters, they waited. For centuries, they drifted, their albino whiteness a sharp contrast to that sloshing black place.
Occasionally, they would surface, slither up the steep, stone steps to a solid oak door inches thick. Through a small grill, they could see a small housing estate that had replaced grassland and where the sea once lapped, children now played on swings and climbing frames.
As they watched, they hungered for that outside world; a world denied to them by Sir Simon de Blanche who threw their ancestors into the deep well to drown for various misdemeanours. Beneath those still waters, The Maid of Ogmore embraced each drowning man and woman, carrying them to her cave where she nurtured those victims on her own green breast milk.
Over centuries, despite her care and love, the outside world was never forgotten. Stories of their previous existence were passed down from generation to generation. They spoke of a world without water; a solid place where their ancestors once walked on two legs in pure daylight. They talked about nightfall and sleeping under a blue-black canopy watched over by a silver moon and her millions of star children.
Through the ages, long after Sir Simon had met his own untimely death, no one from the outside world ever dared to break into the well. Stories of white beings peering through the grill became folklore. Not even the bravest would venture down those steep slippery steps. Though some scoffers scoffed, even those sceptics resisted proving their case and gave only a range of silly excuses.
Then, on a July afternoon, a council official from the Department of Parks and Leisure jimmied off the sturdy lock. Opened the well door. Len Harding was there to assess health and safety issues brought up at a recent council meeting. To remove the door and block off the entrance was one suggestion, but conservationists opposed such a procedure.
* * *
Now Len Harding is peering down those steps that disappear under water. He shivers despite the warmth of the day. ‘What’s it like?’ his assistant shouts.
‘Come and see for yourself,’ Len replies with a shaky laugh and, as he speaks, a mass of rubbery white bodies surge up the steps, knocking him backwards in their haste to escape out from darkness into sunlight.
In horror, parents scream and gather up their children from swings. The grass writhes with bleached forms without limbs. Mouths gape in seal-like faces to emit strangled sounds. The church bell chimes three o’clock as those rubbery skins split and crack open under the heat of a summer’s sun. Stunned, frightened, and a little sore, Len Harding struggles to his feet and calls up all three emergency services on his mobile.
A short while later, Police, Fire Brigade and a fleet of ambulances screech to a halt. Shaken at the terrible sight but determined to come to a resolution, the authories engage in a lively discussion. Too many bodies for the landfill site, they all agree. Too many bodies to cremate.
Then Len Harding interupts all their hemming and hawing. ‘To ensure the world’s media doesn’t descend upon this quiet, rural town, gentlemen, action must be taken now and with great urgency.’ And he continues with a simple suggestion.
Two hours later, at the strike of five o’clock, a digger shovels those bodies back inside the well. Loud splashes resonate about damp thick walls, and above the noise of disposal, a woman’s shrieks can be heard. When at last the entrance is sealed, her cries cut off, The Maid of Ogmore’s predictions still echo in the minds of those above ground. They too, she predicts, will succumb to a premature death when the waters of her well rise up and mercilessly drown every man, woman and child.
Copyright © 2009 by Jennifer Walmsley