As he took his first couple of steps outside, Nick could feel the first bite of winter on the westerly wind blowing directly into his face. It was coming straight off the cold grey mountains and there was nothing in the twenty-eight miles between their lofty peaks and the coast, to interrupt the flow, or warm up the air. He squinted a little, his eyes watering as he looked across the lake towards its island.
‘It’s time to go in,’ he thought, rising from the stone seat and turning towards the cottage. Then, he paused for a moment and raising his face to the sky, he turned and took a long, deep and measured breath in through his nose. There was something familiar in the tang, something that went far beyond the all-pervasive aroma of the Kelp beds at low tide and the salty sea, which was just a few hundred yards beyond the lake. Curious, he took in another long breath and held on to it, for a little more analysis. Now, as Nick released the breath, he suspected he could detect a hint of rain within the sample.
‘Sniffing the wind,’ as he called it, was as good a forecast as any other, in predicting the local weather. It had proved far more accurate than any of the generalisations that flowed like a river of conjecture from the Television presenters. He had learnt in the past few years that dependent upon the wind direction, a quick snort could generally predict with 80% accuracy, whether it was worth beginning an outside task today, or not. It was always better to wait a day or two, to avoid a deal of frustration, when inclement weather brought proceedings to a grinding halt. The few summer visitors who made it out here to the northern tip of Anglesey, often liked to call this kind of thing, ‘Country Ways.’ It was a mystery to them how these, ‘bumpkins’ were often correct.
He folded his arms as some scant protection against the worsening weather and cast his eyes up towards the ominously darkening clouds, flowing off the distant peaks like some kind of metaphorical lava, spewing from an invisible volcano in the heavens. He observed them as they raced past, trying to estimate the rate of knots they were moving. The grey mass was being propelled by a strengthening breeze, which had started the day as a gentle lilt but had been gaining velocity all morning and long since become a gusting wind. As the sun inexorably rose higher into the dark, cloudy sky and the land warmed up a little, so the wind increased and grew ever colder.
“Looks like there are going to be less and less of these mornings from now on. I reckon sitting out here, in a dressing gown and some tatty old slippers, is over for another year.” He grudgingly opined, sighed and turned to head back inside Bethyn Bryn. This day dawned every year but Nick never found, that it was any less of an annual bummer.
“I declare this autumn …. over,” he pompously stated, whilst closing the back door as if to shut the weather out until the next spring.
The warmth from the central heating hit his senses like a velvet wave and the desire to spend the remainder of the morning indoors, rose on his list of priorities. Standing there by the bay window, with the cold world outside, Nick casually looked at the small motor boat he’d tied securely to its Capstan, now bobbing around in the choppy waters of the lake. He’d strategically placed several old rubber tyres along his refurbished quay, to prevent any damage occurring to his new ‘Lady Friend,’ as she bobbed around in the water.
“Shit!” He cursed, as he realised the awful truth. ‘Now, I’ll have to reopen the boathouse and put her away again. Was it too much to ask for a few hours of peace and quiet, to partake of a little fishing?’ Pleading to the weather gods was generally a futile pursuit but Nick did it anyway, while watching the dead leaves by the quay begin to pile up against a long neglected drystone wall, in drifts. It was no use, he would have to put the boat away. Sighing, he turned away. His grandmother’s, ‘Better safe than sorry,’ mantra that he remembered from his childhood, which resonated with deeper meanings, came to mind. It was as if those four words came from somewhere within the depths of his subconscious but on giving it a little more thought, he considered correctly, that it was closer to the barely perceptible but omnipresent, ‘galactic hum.’
Nick, carefully took the top off his coffee and reached for his stash box. He considered briefly where he was going to sit but as usual, plumped for his Lazy Boy recliner, permanently positioned in the bay window, overlooking the lake with its little island. As he casually rolled himself another joint, his third already this morning, which considering he’d only been awake for barely ninety minutes, this was indeed going some, even for him. He calmly lit his latest ‘hand rolled cigarette’ and sitting in the ridiculously comfortable American sized armchair, his mind drifted away on leaden wings of the Marijuana ‘high,’ allowing an overpowering sense of security to flow over him.
“A touch more research, me thinks and this Coffee’s damn good,” he opined, reached over to pick up his iPod and flicked on some Beatles to get himself going, after his almost transcendental garden experience.
“O.K, Heddi let’s see what you’ve got for me, on this fair morning,” he said with Arthurian grandeur. His finger’s operated automatically as he typed in his Username and Password into the computer. Then, while he waited for her to fully boot up, he took another toke on his half smoked ‘dooby’ and washed it down with another mouthful of the surprisingly delicious coffee. “Right then, let’s see if you and me, can find another revelation,” he enquired and lazily typed: Anglesey Post archive+Llyn Isaf, in the Search box.
Yesterday, his attempt to glean a little more information regarding the history of Bethyn Bryn, had yielded little he wasn’t already aware of. He’d learnt of the estimated year of her construction, her previous owners and their family members. There seemed little else to glean from the census and council records, so it was time to look further. He’d decided last night, while watching The Papers on the BBC’s 24 Hour News Channel, that he’d have a look at some of the local press archives for something less dry. A click here and a click there, opened up the world he’d been seeking all along.
“At last, it’s not a scientific project, or anything heavy,” he said to ‘Heddi,’ and started to read. His eyes fell on a file named, ‘Mysterious Death’s and Curious Disappearance’s, 1900 – 2007 inclusive.’ Intrigued, he opened it and peered down at the long list of headlines. Then he saw a search box for the file and typed in ‘Bethyn Bryn.’ It threw up an article which read:
Mysterious Black Water Claims Two More Souls by Elrond Peters
The deep black waters of Llyn Isaf have struck again. This time claiming two more lives from the locality. Local farmer, Mr Bryn Hughes, 56 of Bethyn Bryn and Mr Jack Pritchard, 58 of Ty Croes. The two men were reportedly searching the lake and its mysterious island for Mr Hughes’ son David, 20 also lately of Bethyn Bryn.
I reported the disappearance of David Hughes only two months ago. His boat was found floating in the reeds off the island, Ynys Y Niwl after spending a night fishing on Llyn Isaf. The police put his disappearance down to falling overboard into the lakes freezing black waters and drowning, like so many have before.
Mr Bryn Hughes, inconsolable at his loss, refused to give up hope that his sons body may yet be found. He and his friend, Mr Jack Pritchard continued to search the lakeshores and the island. According to the police, it was on one such venture last Friday, in Mr Pritchard’s inflatable dinghy, that they went missing.
So far, no evidence of either men or their boat, has been found. Yet again, the police have filed this one under ‘accidental capsize and drowning.’ Their deaths bring the total number of those consumed by the dangerous black waters of Llyn Isaf since 1900, to 146.
A spokesman for Lord Cuthbert and Lady Cleaver, the present owners of the estate which includes Llyn Isaf, Ynys Y Niwl and the lakeshore and island properties, has stated that the lake will continue to be closed to all local people except for permitted shoreline fishing. However, those renting properties on the lakeshore have historic legal boating and fishing rights and can continue to use them. They have erected signs to inform and warn the public of the rules and dangers of the lake. In addition, the area is patrolled by Seth Gordon to ensure compliance and life rings are available at several points around the lake.
Mr Bryn Hughes is survived by his father Tecwen Hughes, 78 who remains living in Bethyn Bryn. Mr Jack Pritchard leaves a teenage daughter.