Copyright © 2022 Paul Gresham
All rights reserved.
A brutal and terrifying ancient civilisation returns to the modern age.
And those who discover it must somehow survive.
Translations from Anglo Saxon English to modern English
Angelcynn: English, anyone who is not a Saxon.
Endelîf Eard: End Of Life Earth, or cemetery.
Eilderman/Eildermen: local councillor.
Eoten; a violent sea creature.
Havensea: an isolated village on the east coast of modern-day England, which was a Saxon settlement from AD 500 to 1100.
Scene breaks image: An Anglo Saxon rune.
One Thurs. night Cassie and Rob arrive in Havensea
I didn’t like the idea of driving the motorhome off the main road and turning along a farm track that was in the middle of nowhere.
But my new boyfriend Rob was at the wheel and we had agreed that whoever was driving could decide which road to take; it was his turn to drive, I had finished my turn about an hour earlier.
We were heading towards a place called Havensea, a small seaside village in the East Anglia region of England.
It was my idea to come here, I’d seen on the internet that an extremely low tide was forecast for Havensea, which might reveal an ancient settlement that had long ago been submerged by the sea, and I wanted to see it.
I glanced at the fields of crops on each side of the farm track and wondered why I couldn’t see a farm anywhere, or any tractors in the fields.
The sun was setting, it would be dark in about an hour – at about ten pm, we had to find a place to park the motorhome and spend the night in it before then.
It had been a long hot day, the hottest day of the summer so far, and I was looking forward to taking a shower in the motorhome.
“Any idea where we’re going?” I said.
“It’s okay, Cassie, we’ll find a good place to camp pretty soon” he said confidently.
In a way, it was a good idea to drive along the farm track.
If we had kept going into Havensea we would have to drive around looking for somewhere to park, which isn’t always easy with a twenty-foot long motorhome.
I’ve been driving around the country and camping in motorhomes for several years, sometimes with boyfriends but often alone.
I don’t automatically sleep with these new boyfriends, I make them sleep in the motorhome’s second bedroom while I sleep in the main bedroom. If anything happens after this, it happens, but so far it hadn’t happened.
We’re both from Cornwall, in south western England, he’s a freelance mechanic and I work as a secretary on my dad’s farm, which is why I can take time off from work and travel around the country, whenever I want to do.
I know from experience that the best time to arrive in a strange town or village is early in the morning, before all the parking places have been taken.
In fact it’s often better to avoid parking in towns and villages altogether, and park a couple of miles outside of them.
Ideally this should be somewhere that’s secluded, often hidden among a bunch of trees, where I’m safe from prying eyes.
I use my mountain bike which is locked in its rack at the back of the motorhome to bike into these places, although there are two of them now because Rob’s bike is there, as well.
Motorhomes are usually a bright white colour which can be seen from miles away, but I had mine sprayed with a dark green colour to merge into the background.
But it was getting too late to look for somewhere secluded that was a couple of miles outside of Havensea, the light was fading fast and it would soon be dark.
That meant we would be driving around with our headlights switched on, which would draw attention to us.
We had planned to arrive now – on a Thursday night, to avoid any weekend holiday traffic that might be heading to Havensea.
We bumped and jolted along the farm track for several miles, passing more fields of vegetables, which were just dark blobs now that it was almost dark.
But about a mile ahead I could see a low ridge of what looked like sand dunes.
Pretty soon we reached the foot of them and saw that we were at a dead end – except for one thing.
There was a gap in the sand dunes that was just about wide enough to drive the motorhome through.
But what was on the other side of it?
“Let’s take a look” Rob said.
He switched the engine off and we walked through the gap, sometimes stumbling in the soft sand.
When we got to the other side I saw that we were looking at a marsh, a wide expanse of mud that was broken only by a few clumps of grass, and sometimes by what looked like tidal creeks.
“That’s a good place!” Rob suddenly said excitedly.
But it was only about ten feet wide, which was only just wide enough for the motorhome, and I couldn’t see anywhere at the end of it to turn it around, that meant that we’d have to reverse it all the way back along the track, when it was time to leave.
“Are you sure?” I said doubtfully – then another problem occurred to me.
“What if there’s a high tide, and the sea comes over it?”
“It’ll be perfect” he said confidently. I looked around at the monotonous fields of crops and decided that maybe he was right, I’d rather look at the sea than look at them.
He engaged the motorhome in a very low gear and we slowly drove through the sand in the gap in the sand dunes until we reached the track.
We stayed in low gear and cautiously drove along it using the faint light from the moon to help us avoid accidentally driving off it and plunging into the marsh.
Finally we reached the end of the track, and switched off the engine.
“We’ll be safe enough here” he said confidently.
But I wasn’t so sure.
“Let’s go for a midnight swim” I suddenly said.
I like to do this, whenever I’m camping on the coast, and whenever I have a boyfriend with me.
It’s a bit too risky if I’m on my own because there are sometimes some pretty strange people on the beaches at night.
So far we’ve done it all way up from Essex, through Suffolk, and Norfolk, but we haven’t hada chance to do it in this part of East Anglia yet.
There was just one thing.
I cut my right ankle when we were driving on our way to Havensea, I got out of the motorhome in my sandals and slipped on some broken glass.
I washed it with antiseptic and put a stick-on bandage on it but it was still bleeding.
But as we’d be swimming in the open sea I don’t suppose that mattered, it would be different if it was a swimming pool of course.
I put on a one piece bathing suit (chaste, rather than revealing, because so far it’s been that kind of relationship) while Rob turned his back to me and put on his swimming shorts.
We also decided to take a pair of warm wool shirts with us because I know from experience that it can be cold when you come out of the water.
We didn’t take our ‘phones with us, in case someone stole them while we’re in the sea.
There was only one problem.
Not the entire marsh, just a short stretch of it that was probably three or four hundred yards wide.
We had to cross the marsh to reach the beach.
Suddenly I felt something wet on my right foot.
It was blood.
I knew what that meant.
The bleeding from my cut was too profuse for the bandage, it had soaked through it and was dripping from the ankle down to the foot.
I hesitated for a moment and tried to decide whether to change it for another one, but decided not to bother, surely the sea water wouldn’t hurt it.
We decided that I should lead the way, because I’m lighter than he is and if I got stuck in the mud he could maybe pull me out.But if he got into trouble I could never pull him out.
I was testing the ground with a walking stick, it’s one of those collapsable ones that you can collapse into a length of about six inches and put it in your pocket.
I use it pretty often, but not for walking, I use it to test the ground when I’m planning to park the motorhome there, in case it’s too soft and I can’t drive out of it again when it’s time to move on.
I was too busy studying the ground to look around at the dark marsh, and I sensed that behind me he was doing the same.
We finally crossed the marsh and reached the beach.
We kicked off our sandals and walked into the shallow water.
The tide was out and there were hardly any waves, just ripples that barely covered our ankles, which made me hesitate for a moment.
“At this rate we’ll have to walk out there for half a mile before it’s deep enough to swim in” I said.
“You sure you’re okay with that?” he said.
I didn’t know if he meant because of the long walk or because of the cut on my ankle, maybe it was both.
“I’m fine with it” I said.
“Let’s try to run through it and get to the deep water quicker” he said.
I knew what he meant by ‘tried.’
It’s nearly impossible to run through water, it takes too long to lift one foot out of it, because you’re fighting against the weight of the water.
By the time you’ve managed to overcome that you lose your balance and your entire body lands in the water.
I threw my hands out to balance myself and leaned forwards like a sprinter at the start of a race but he suddenly said something else that made me stop.
“Maybe we’ll reach the ancient settlement.”
“You said we’ll have to walk out to sea for half a mile before the water’s deep enough to swim in, right? Well, the ancient settlement’s about half a mile out at sea, isn’t it?”
“Are you serious? It’s only visible at extremely low tides.”
But maybe he was right, maybe this was an extremely low tide, we hadonly been here for a couple of days, we had no idea what an extremely low tide was supposed to look like. Not here, anyway, because we weren’t familiar with the tides. If it was Cornwall, where we were familiar with the tides, we would know exactly what one was supposed to look like.
“I’ll race you to it” he laughed, and plunged through the water.
For some strange reason I glanced at an area of the sea that was about half a mile away, instead of the nearest hundred yards or so of it, which is what you usually do when you’re going for a swim. Hit the water.
I thought that I saw a disturbance in the water out there, like a whirlpool, but of course that was impossible.
The Eoten moved around uneasily among the rotting timbers which were submerged under the sea two miles from the modern village of Havensea, and which were all that remained of the ancient Saxon settlement of Havenzee, the Saxon word for the village.
As a sea creature its senses were highly attuned to the tides, and it sensed that they were beginning to change.
It sensed that a new kind of tide was approaching – one that might threaten its existence among the ruins, although it did not have sufficient intelligence to understand exactly how it might threaten it.
A human being, with access to the tidal patterns, would probably realise that the new kind of tide was a particularly low one, which could expose the ruins.
It was suddenly alerted.
It had sensed the presence of another creature in the water.
Etheldred Stewart splashed around in the water for a few more minutes until she decided that she had done as much as she could to distract the Eoten from the Angelcynn in the sea.
She got out of the water and put her clothes back on, then began to walk back along the beach towards Havensea, about a mile away.
She thought about the Angelcynn again.
How did they manage to enter Havensea?
Not by the usual route, by driving along the main road, which was the only road that led into Havensea.
Although it wasn’t exactly a main road, it was just a narrow country road – almost a lane, that was riddled with lumps and pot holes.
It was guarded by Saxons by day and by night, and they would have reported any Angelcynn incursions to the Eildermen.
And if they had tried to enter the settlement when the Saxons were holding a special celebration such as the Our Saxon Life day, they risked being killed.
Then she realised.
They must have sneaked into it by using the only another route that was possible, an obscure farm track that led from the main road to the sand dunes, and from there to the causeway.
But how did they get find it?
Or did they already know about it?
If that was the case, they were spies.
And they would have to die.
(3784 words, about 5% of novel)