October 29, 2011 Glencoe Lady – at sommerleigh.com/monsterfest-2011
Looking back it was the award winning Fish and Chips from the Good Food Cafe that almost did me in. My brothers, Mike, Robert, and I stopped in Tyndrum, Scotland to grab a bite. We had met up in the Edinburgh airport that morning and motored off on our Scotland mission. We had just visited the Rob Roy grave at Auchtubh Church.
On the road to Ft. William the must go urge hit me. By the time we found a place we all had to go. The restaurant we stop at is closed but the Inn there is open. there was an odd unfriendly sign at the door, “No Hawkers or Campbells”. It is out of season time there so you could see the evil thought hitting the Inn Keeper’s brain. “Our facilities are for our guests, Lads” In desperation we agreed to an one night three bed room and breakfast deal.
“We shoulda just left a deposit on their floor and left” grumbled Robert, my youngest brother. He looks like me ten years ago. He sprawls on his claimed bed in our room.
Mike laughed ,”Dump and Go”. He calls himself the “well adjusted middle brother”. He looks like neither of us being tall and skinny.
“It would be crazy to start and maybe end our trip in a village jail ” I said being the older wiser one. “We were going to stop somewhere anyway. The room is not bad and we got to go in a clean place instead of in plain sight of everyone on the Moor. Let’s go exploring now that we feel better!”
“Wait, Don” said Robert “Did you realize this Inn is near Glencoe where some of our ancestors were massacred? 78 people were killed nearby. Forty of them from the cold after their homes were burned.”
“Ugh! Let’s go before it gets dark” I order. “We can take the woods trail!”. We march over the stream bridge to the woods trail which starts by the river. I lead, both Robert and Mike follow slowing to take pictures as they go. The trail skirts the river which is at a tempting low level. Across the river, across a broad moor, mountains reach for the darkening sky. On the trail side of the river the woods rise on the hill side. It is darker under the tall trees as the sun sinks lower. The trail has an odd line of stones in the middle of it running the length of the trail as far as I can see.
“Hurry up we need to get back before dark.”
” I just want to get this shot” said Robert.
It is their most popular refrain. Robert likes the close up. Mike likes the panoramic shot.
After 40 minutes of stops and starts, I round a bend in the river and stop to wait for my two picture-taking brothers.
After a while I don’t hear them. I start to get cold in my windbreaker. I put on my hoodie and I went back around the bend to find them. “If you guys ditched me you better buy me some shots to warm me up!” I yell. I walk back around the bend to find no one. I am stunned. The whole place is covered in snow that was not there before. The trail and the river had disappeared. All I could see was snow and trees. I look behind me. It is the same snow and trees. I am completely lost without even trying.
The wind blows and I snuggle up to a tree. I try to use my cell phone but it says “no signal”. I remember the lessons of boy scouts – shelter in place – don’t wander. It is very cold for April I thought even for Scotland.
I saw figures moving through the snow. “Hello” I yell. I come slowly toward them. They are three woman each holding a small child against the cold. They have grim expressions against the wind. Two did not seem to have coats. I gave one my jacket and the other my hoodie. I help her put it on but she seemed grateful. The older one seemed to be the leader and watched me dress the other two. No one responds to my English. I spoke do you know the way? in my speak Scottish App. I held the phone to the older ones ear. She does not flinch. She goes from surprise to wonder. She starts to speak fast and I say slow down and held it to her ear again.
She spoke slower and the app played. “I am Edme of Achnacon. I am married to Ian MacDonald the Gamesman. Who are you? Not a Campbell! I pray!”
“I am Don from America? I am related to the MacDonalds. I like games myself” I said “Do you know the way?”
“Yes, follow the stones in the trail. You can feel them under the snow. My husband made sure of that so he could hunt at dusk and find his way home.”
“I was going freeze here, I think and it would have been so simple to find my way back”. I shook my head.
“No, the Ladies we met before finding you told me you would be here. The older one told me you need to bear left at the split to get back to your brothers and your love. We woman are to go right”.
“We did not know them either but they knew us and lead us out of the village just before we heard screaming. They are brave ladies They both said to tell you they love all of you. they vanished just before we saw you. We need to hurry the night is cold. Thank you for your coats”.
I could feel the the stone trail under my feet as we moved through the woods. I carry the other women’s small kids to give them a rest. After a cold eternity we reach the trail split.
“Thank you for your help” Edme says “We can get to where we must now. We would not have come this far without your arms and coats. Thank your Ladies for us. I will never forget the younger one’s eyes.”
“You are welcome. Good Luck”
They disappear into the darkness. I follow the trail. The lights of the Inn welcome me.
I stumble in exhausted. My rotten bothers are at the bar drinking the local ale.
“Another 20 minutes and we were going to call out the world to find you! You have been gone for almost two hours! Where were you hiding?” Mike is half joking! I can feel the concern in his voice.
“What do you mean, you jerks! I have been gone at least six hours. I am cold from the snow and starving.”
“Did you hit your head or something? It’s been two hours and there is no snow” Robert laughs.
We eat dinner in the bar, a wild boar burger with chutney sauce. it is so delicious. I follow it with a Clootie Dumpling. It is a spice raisin cake in yellow whiskey pudding. I tell them my story. They listen like good brothers. Mike checks my head for lumps!
“You should go to bed. We will see how you are in the morning”. Robert says with a worried smile.
I am too exhausted to argue.
The next day we get our breakfast early. My brothers watch me intently. “I am fine” I laugh. I feel great. “Let’s move out” and go to check out.
The Inn Keeper looks at me oddly. “I refunded your money. Those two ladies are quite a pair. yea shoulda told me you were related to the MacDonalds. I like your Mom but I thought the other lady was gona to kill me. Such angry intense eyes..”
I walk to the car in a daze.
“Is Mom ok?” I ask.
“Yes, her ashes are still here in the car” Mike said gently. “Just a couple more days and we can scatter them on her favorite beach”.
“We better get on the road” I say.
My phone rings. “Hi, my love, I think I met my ancestors last night” My voice trails off as I remember her eyes.
“I had the strangest dream, too, Don.” she said.
Copyright by Sean Vessey 2011
posted for Sommer Leigh’s Monsterfest 2011