Pictures, Susan loved to take pictures, landscape, portraits, still life. She would always have her camera to hand, just encase she would miss that sunset, an oddly contorted tree with a barbed wire fence assimilated into it or the moon reflecting on the dark water of the lake, she was a dreamer at heart. Dan has always loved this about her, her ability to see more in a picture then must people. Dan he was more of a practical guy with a âIf you donât judge a book by its cover how are you going to know what itâs aboutâ attitude to life.
It was Saturday morning in mid-July, Dan was woke by a feverish bouncing and reluctantly opened his eyes. The morning sun was beaming through the bedroom window, Susan silhouette danced in the sun light, the bed room curtains were fully drawn there was no hiding. She was wide awake and straddling him on the bed bouncing with excitement. âCome on babe it time to get up, it beautiful outâ his first reply was âWhat time is it?â the only response give was âItâs go timeâ With that she had jumped from his hips and was gone to the kitchenâ Dan knew this meant only one thing, Susan loved road trip. It didnât really matter where, anywhere and nowhere. He followed zombielike to the kitchen where breakfast was waiting with a strong cup of black coffee.
The roads were quite that Saturday morning as they made their way down the country, sticking mostly to the smaller secondary roads for a greater sense of adventure. Driving down roads enclosed by tall heavily leafed trees, the sun light flashed speckles of light trough the shadows of the dense foliage. Susan was holding her camera recording the passing scenery and landmarks and occasionally pointing it at Dan, she whould ask questions or giving a brief commentary of where they hasd pasted or where they were heading. They had stopped at a few places as they made their way down the country. Susan would take some pictures and Dan would enjoy a quick smoke, much to the disapproval of Susan.
They arrived in Dungarvan in Waterford just before lunch and both were feeling hungry. âI think itâs time for some grub hone, what you thinking?â Dan said. Susan perked up in her seat âLetâs head down towards the harbor, Iâm sure there is somewhere we can sit outâ They headed through town and toward the sea and found a small cafĂ© with tables outside, they ordered some food and sat watching the boats bobbing their way out to the Irish Sea. A light breeze was blowing in from the open water as they finished eating their lunch. Susan was now wrapped in the protective warming embrace of Dan, he kissed her cheek and asked âWhere do you want to go now?â She turned her heads and look into Danâs eyes and with a playful smile said âIâd be happy to stay here in your arms till sunset” smiling they both looked at each other “but letâs get one more coffee and hit the road againâ Dan laughed and kissed Sue softly on the forehead and said âI pop in and get us one more, same again?â Susan replied âPlease babeâ Dan went back into the cafĂ© and got two more coffees an Americana for him and a latte and caramel for Sue. As Dan was paying for the coffee he noticed Susan was speaking to a man who looked like he had just came from one of the fishing boats. By the time he walk back outside the man had gone. âWho was that you were speaking too Sue?â âHe was a fisherman, I think! I asked him if he knew of any old ruins around that would be good for some photographsâ Susan said. âHe told me of old Affane Church, itâs only down the road about 15 minutesâ drive. Sound like it could be very interesting place to take few a photosâ Dan laughed âHa the tourist board at work again, we can have these in the car on the drive so, lets saddle up Missyâ
They arrived at Affane Church; from the road you could see the top of the old steeple barely emerging above the trees of the surrounding woods. There wasnât much of anything around the area except for one or two small farms they had passed. Susan and Dan got out of the car and stood beside an old grey stone wall, just behind which they could see among the over grown grass and briers where some old headstones, some still standing others fallen and broken. âGreat an old grave yard; you never told me there was an old grave yardâ Dan said, Susan laughed âDonât be silly, there is nothing to be worried about, sure amnât I here to protect youâ Susan said playfully mocking Dan. Susan had her camera out and started taking pictures. Dan looked at her shaking his head. The place was silent there was not a sound heard from the surrounding area except for the birds in the trees. They started to make their way towards the old church through the grave yard. Susanâs watchful eye held fast to the camera. Dan clumsily made his way over fallen headstones and briers; he was tippy toeing over graves trying his best not to stand on any. Suddenly there came a flapping and rustling sound high in the trees and a murder of black crows shout out from the trees with a loud CAW, CAW, CAW Dan and Susan jumped with a fright and Dan let out a loud âJUESUSâ Susan panned her camera from him up the what little blue sky she could see through the dense covering of the tress just catching the crows as the vanished overhead. Susan and Dan looked at each other silently for a moment and then both exhaled quietly laughing together.
They came to a small opening in the trees and headed trough, the old church stood in front of them. The roof had fallen in long ago and all windows and doors were gone. Dark green Ivy crawled up the sides and you could see the top of a tree grown from inside the main building. The main doorway to the church was at the base of the steeple; it was dark and uninviting. Dan turned to Susan and with a half-smile on his face said âBehold the old church. Letâs take some pictures so we can hit the roadâ Susan smiles at him âSomeoneâs is in a hurryâ she raised her camera, took a few pictures and switched it to video. While recording he began to narrate âHere we are today at Affane Church in gorgeous Waterford on this lovely summers day. Itâs me SusanâŠâ she turned the camera and pointed it at herself and gave an over exaggerated goofy smile and a wave âHelloâ she turned the camera back around âAnd this is my hunky fearless boyfriend Dan, say hi Danâ Dan look into the camera waved and comically saying âHi everybodyâ Susan continued âWe here looking around this old 19th century ruined church and spooky gave yardâ She paned the camera around slowly taken in the church and surround woods, then moved onto the a few of the fallen gravestones. Dan stayed near the front of the church sitting up on a broken piece of wall waiting for Susan to finish up. There was a rushing of some leaves from the side of the church, then, thud and a crack. âSusan, you ok?â silence, âSusanâ there was no answer, Dan jumps to his feet and ran to the side of the church where she had been â Come on Sue, stop messing around, where did you goâ again silence, he shouted again âSusanâ this time you can hear the worry in his voice. He made his way around the church. Susanâs unconscious body was lying on the ground face down. âSusanâ his voice trembling. Dan quickly ran towards her. There was a rustling from the bushes behind him. Then, thud, Dan was struck from behind, all he saw was a flash of white light then all is black.
Dan began to come around, his body aching and his head throbbing with pain. There was blood around his neck and the top of his t-shirt, whatever or whoever hit him, hit him hard. He sat on the part of a broken grave stone, dazed; his mind blank his vision still not focused, he was not sure where he was or what had just happen. He started becoming more lucid, he senses were tuning back into his surroundings. He raised his left hand to rub the back of his neck but at the same time lost his balance and he propped himself up with his right, he swung his left arm back around and saw the blood on his palm of his hand. He stood up with a dart and looked around where he was standing. There on the ground a few feet in front of him was Susanâs camera. With the rush of blood to the brain from standing up too fast it all came flooding back to him, like a movie on fast forward. âSusan’s not here, how long was I out, oh god Susanâ he taught as he began to panic. âSUSANâ he shouted.
Deep breaths, Deep breaths he began to calm a little. âHow long has it been since I was knocked outâ he bent down and grabbed the camera. The screen still worked, he hit onto the playback option and opened the last video file. He quickly forwarded to the nearly the end, he stopped when he saw the camera drop to the ground. He watched the last minute and could his voices shout for Susan on the video, then he heard a thud. âThat must have been when I was hitâ then he saw something that terrified him. Coming into the shout were the legs of someone walking towards the camera, heavy looking black boots and what looked like green work pant of overhauls! They past again this time Susan unconscious body was dragged slowly past. Then the soul of the boot came crashing into the front of the camera and the screen was black, the time index on the screen stopped at 15.55, Dan look at his watch it was 16.20. He was knocked out for nearly 25 minutes.
By Barry Murphy