The Dark Key
â€œYouâ€™re a demon,â€ growled a face with crimson eyes.
â€œWhatâ€¦do you mean?â€ uttered Matthew sleepily.
â€œHellâ€™s about to erupt into your life,â€ said the face with a cruel laugh.
It was a bright Sunday morning when Matthew Wilson opened his eyes. The sun light,
which shone through his bedroom window, was alive with a million specks of dust. He was
surrounded by the usual debris of a morning after the night before. His clothes were strewn in
crazy patterns on the floor next to the discarded foil containers of the take-away which had
been half eaten.
He managed to pull himself out of bed and make his way unsteadily to the toilet, while
promising to abstain from drinking â€“ for a while at least. Looking at his reflection in the
mirror he decided he had seen too many Saturday nights pass by in an alcoholic haze. It was
time to improve his health, so he decided, after breakfast, to take a long walk along
Arbroathâ€™s cliff top pathway.
After washing and shaving Matthew went downstairs into his neat but small kitchen and
made some coffee. He decided not to eat anything as his stomach felt a bit tender due to the
eight pints of beer he had consumed the previous evening.
He read Saturdayâ€™s newspaper and tried to forget about his state of physical health. The
columns were filled with depressing things about war and famine, which didnâ€™t improve his
state of mental health. So he gave up reading and decided it was time for the walk.
The day was perfect; the sun lit a golden path across the sea to the horizon. Autumn had
changed the leaves on the trees and bushes into a blaze of colour, which ranged from red
through to gold. The azure sea lapped onto the rocks at the foot of the ancient sandstone
He thought of his girlfriend, Jane, and the way they had argued the night before over some
inconsequential matter, which ended up with her storming off in a taxi threatening never to
see him again. He also thought of his work in the library which was interesting but rather
dull: stamping out books and filling shelves with the returns. It was time for a change; he
needed some excitement in his life.
Suddenly, as he walked round an inlet known as â€˜Dickmontâ€™s Denâ€™, a wind got up which
made him shiver and caused goose bumps to appear on his bare arms. He rolled down his
shirt sleeves and buttoned the cuffs.
Walking on, his thoughts were interrupted by flocks of seagulls fleeing inland, their screams
piercing the tranquillity of the spot. The wind became stronger, and the sea started to whip up
into a mass of manic, white horses. Waves crashed off the rocks, and large strands of seaweed
thrashed back and forth like lost souls trying to escape a frothy hell.
Dark threatening cumuli, which seemed to have appeared from nowhere, moved slowly past
and released a light, but penetrating rain which soaked Matthew through to the skin. He had
dressed for a sunny day which now seemed a distant memory.
The high winds caused him to struggle along the path and, as he passed the rock structure
known as the Pulpit, Matthew was stopped in his tracks by a bizarre scene. On a cliff stack in
front of him, which threatened to break away from the mainland, were six hooded figures that
chased another hooded figure. He realised they were monks. But what were monks doing
here on the cliff tops?
The six chasing monks wore black robes with golden cords around the waist, while their
prey wore a shabby grey habit. Rather than run they appeared to hover over the path, which
ran the length of the stack. The high winds had no effect on them. The closer he got, the more
surreal the scene became. Meantime, the weather was becoming worse, there was no way
Matthew could stand on the stack in that strength of wind even if he wanted to.
Closer and closer the six got to the single monk until it seemed they were going to run out
of path. Matthew made his way gingerly to the start of the stack path, but had no idea what he
was going to do.