Chapter 2

Written by: Ray Stone

I found Dunwich to be a desolate place of sparse populace. On a bright day, the village probably had the charm to encourage visitors to walk and take the sea air as our Queen had invited her subjects, telling us the air greatly aided those with Tuberculosis and a host of other ailments.

On this day the sky was cluttered with overlapping black clouds that moved slowly, blown by a stiff wind. Alighting from the Ipswich carriage, where I had spent the night after traveling from London, I pulled a thick cloak across my chest as the biting wind blew strands of hair across my eyes. 

After settling into lodgings, I took directions to St James’s Church and the old leper chapel. Mr. Felton Kirkman had been quite concise in his carefully written instructions that he gave my friend Elliot. The gravedigger, one Joshua Snipes, lived in one of the three cottages that had survived decay since the church handed the care of leprosy over to the authorities in the late 17th century. The landlord assured me the best route was the coastal path for it afforded one the best view of what was left of St James’s.

The coast walk was cold and uninviting, and the crashing waves riding up onto the gravel beach below did nothing to encourage my enthusiasm. For many years, the sea had gradually swallowed up half the village as the cliffs eroded, leaving scattered remnants of the past to rot and disappear in the sand and shingle. As the church came into view, my mood darkened. There were many questions to be asked, and the thought that some dark secret had been kept from me made me determined to seek out Snipes to ease my concerns and learn the truth about my parents. 

The west wall and the chapel stood next to the foundations of the colony - all overgrown with weed; the stone ruins partially covered in green algae. It was a lonely place that exuded a feeling of sadness and decay; of past pain and isolation. A thunderous sea and wind completed the scene, adding an undulating backdrop of power. It left me with a feeling of frailty. 

***

“You be welcome, Sir, although I suppose you to be more of a gentlemanly nature by the look of your dress. My home be small and cold, but you are bid welcome to tea and crabcake. Come sit you by the fire.”

Mr. Joshua Snipes was an old man of sixty or more, and despite his apparent poor status and ragged clothes, I warmed to his cheery disposition.

“I come on an errand of much importance, Mr. Snipes and hope you will have much information for me.” 

With certainty that I could trust him, I recounted my story.

Sucking on his clay pipe and pouring tin mugs with tea, Snipes began a narrative that was to change my life from that moment on.

Comments

This is a brilliant chapter. You capture the period in your dialogue and narrative, The sound of the sea over the gravel shore is ringing my ears and to leave on the note you did makes a reader keen to return to hear the story. Vivid description and characterisation.
Thank you. I have a feeling that the photos I am taking are still in my head after working on them all day and the evening writing sessions are benefiting from pics stored in the minds eye. Comments like yours are valuable. Cheers.