(This story by Justin Dixon is the winner of our 2016 Life In A Kilt “Kilt of Horrors” Halloween stories podcast.
People always say that writing down your experiences can help you to understand them. At least that’s what they say. Here’s hoping that there’s some truth to this.
I had saved up and planned this trip for a while. For my fortieth birthday, I was going to visit my roots in Scotland. I had done my research, and found that though my surname had no clan of its own, we were a sept of the Clan Keith. They have been a large part of Scotland’s history, serving as Earl Marshals since they had served Macolm II by slaying the Danish general Camus.
I was all set to travel. Flight planned, rentals arranged, and kilt packed. I was going to travel through the great old country in “classic” style. Everything was set.
I decided that I was going to start a little further south, by stopping off at StoneHenge first. The great standing stones were even more breathtaking in person. The cool air coming from the plains was refreshing. But the chill that I felt running down my spine was not from the weather. I had a feeling that someone or something was staring at me.
The feeling stayed with me for the whole trip across the border. As I drove north into Scotland I couldn’t help thinking back to my Stonehendge stop. I tried to figure out just what it was that had me on edge. My mind was so caught up with this situation, that I had taken my mind off the road.
I came back to the present with a sudden shock, as a horse and rider came bolting over a hedge by the side of the road. The horse was of a pale white with dark spots scattered over its body. And the rider was wearing some old period clothing. The only true detail that I could make out was that he had a great kilt on, with the full regalia of weapons, from the dirk and targe, down to a basket hilted sword flopping along his hip. I didn’t have the time to recognize his tartan, as I was about to make road pizza of him and his horse. But as I slammed on brakes and turned to see if I had caused any troubles for him, I found myself alone on the road.
With this latest development, I was really looking forward to the inn and a tall pint of local ale. I pulled into the town, and found my way easily to the inn where I had booked my week long stay. After settling into my room, I went down stairs to enjoy the pint I had in mind. The pub was crowded with what seemed to be a regular crowd. I could hear music coming from one side of the room, nearly being drowned out by the ruckus laughter and story telling of some of the older men.
I was polishing off my second glass when someone came up beside me at the bar and asked if I was familiar with the area. I told them that I, an American, and had just arrived in the town myself. As we talked, I found out that the person was taking a similar trip through Scotland as I was. We decided that it would be easier if we both made our respective journeys together. So we decided to meet outside the pub in the morning.
As the sun began to break over the horizon, I found myself waiting outside alone. As the decided time came and went, I finally chose to leave my new found friend to whatever devices they had found themselves with. The rain was beating a slow rhythm on the roof of my car as I headed off to the town of Stonehaven. I was heading visit the old castle ruins of Dunnottar Castle.
As I started to walk the remains of the castle I started hearing my name from behind me. My acquaintance from the previous night had found their way up to Stonehaven after I had left. It seems that they had overslept due to the night’s frivolity, but they seemed no worse for the wear. We started to delve deeper into the ruins, studying all the little crevices of the relics, that I had failed to notice that the sun was slowly edging closer to western horizon.
I started to notice that not only was the light starting to fade, but the air was getting unseasonably cold. It was then that I felt the same eerily dark eyes on me as I felt at Stonehendge. It seemed that a fog was finding its way into the castles deeper reaches. As I turned to tell my companion that it was past time to leave, I was confronted with the same Scot that I had seen on the road the evening before. It was then that I noticed the skin on the man was nearly transparent, and hanging loosely from around his face. He was standing in the way of the only exit from the room I was in.
As he crept closer to me, I realized that he seemed familiar. This was the same person that I had spoken with at the pub. The same man that had left me waiting that morning. As these realizations flew through my mind, I also was frantically trying to find a way out of my current predicament. The man drew closer until the breath of the crypt filled my nostrils. He reached out his hand and motioned that I should follow him.
“Brother! Do you not know of whose home you now tread? Was it not a fortnight ago, that we roamed these halls, boasting of the game we had hunted? Does your blood not sing with the memories of these walls, of the Glory of the clan? Come and join us again Brother!”
These words echo through my mind even now. That was two years ago for me. When the apparition had finished his speech, it was the last thing I remembered before waking up in the same room that I had first realized what it was. As the memory of the previous day flooded back to me, I ran. I couldn’t tell you how I had found my way back into Stonehaven. Especially with as much as it had seemed to change overnight. When I found the police station, the constable in charge sat me into a room alone while he handled tracking down some of my information. When he came back to check on me, he was accompanied by a pair of large men in white suits.
It seems that when I left on my trip in 1956, I had been presumed dead after seven year as with no trace. They tell me that I must have fabricated a new reality when something tragic happened to me. That I must be someone else. Because no one of my age could have possibly been alive for decades without aging.
The only problem with their logic is, they cannot find who I was before.
© Justin Dixon. All rights reserved.