Once, or twice, Alan stopped whatever he was doing and stood upright, to listen out for a recurrence of something that he thought he’d heard, coming from away back down the far end of the drearily lit cellar. ‘Just stop it,’ he thought. ‘There’s nothing in here and there hasn’t been for a long time, so just get hold of yourself and stop being such a big girls blouse,’ he said to himself, sternly. That pep talk, made him feel better for a while but as they were leaving, he was sure that he heard something shuffling about, just out of sight, down there, in the deep shadows. He stood motionless, trying not to breathe, for fear of spooking, the ‘whatever it was,’ he was beginning to seriously suspect, was in the cellar with them. For some unknown reason, Alan just knew, deep down, that this unseen ‘stalker,’ could somehow hear his heart beating in his chest and was able to easily disappear, back into the darkness from whence he came, if he spooked it. However, he quickly dismissed it as just another paranoid moment in his bizarre life. ‘One for the increasingly large, phantom perturbances file,’ he thought, ‘engineered by your own furtive mind. Oh well, never mind, even Carter mentioned in his biography, that when he was alone in Tut’s tomb, he always felt as if he was being watched, so you’re in good company.’ He reassured himself.
Another sound, a soft dull thud, resonated through this ancient, secret and seemingly forgotten cellar. Alan instinctively turned to look in the direction the noise had emanated from. For a moment, he thought he saw a form, attempting to manifest itself within a swirling dust devil, which was dancing its way across the stone floor.
“Oh, come on Turnbull. What’s it they say about seeing shapes in clouds?” He spat out loud, “You see whatever you want to see, depending on your mood at that time,” he cried a touch too loudly.
“What the fuck are you talking about?” Nick called back, from thirty yards ahead of him, behind some casks.
“Nothing, worth fuck all really, you know what I’m like in lonely dark places.”
“Yeah, a big girls blouse,” Nick responded with a chuckle. Then, after a few seconds of silence, his head popped round the barrels, “Go on then, we’re all waiting with suitably baited breath, spill the beans,” he added sarcastically.
“Fuck you Nix! And if you must know, I thought that I saw a ghost, or something, moving around down there,” he said, pointing in the direction of the apparently growing darkness at the far end of the cellar, while moving towards Nick. Nick turned and looked into the gloom while Alan caught up to him. As his eyes acclimatised to the darkness, something almost invisibly, moved in the mirk behind his friend.
Nick suddenly stopped and Alan watched as he speechlessly tilted his head to the right. Experience had taught him that this meant that Nix was either, looking at something he couldn’t easily explain away, or he was considering something heavy, that was going on behind his back. Either way, Alan didn’t want to be jumped, he seriously doubted that his heart would be able to withstand a shock on that level, so he quickly turned and looked back down the cellar, in the hope of seeing what was intriguing his compadre. Seeing nothing sinister, he let out his breath then took in a great gulp of air and in relief, put both his hands on his chest.
“There’s nothing there, Nix. This is what happened to me earlier. Perhaps we’re getting a little drunk, with all the alcoholic vapours, or fungal spores that are undoubtedly in here with us. Perhaps we’re just viewing this place, through proverbial beer goggles?”
It seemed logical to Nick, that there would be some kind of a residue in the air left over from all the barrels, some of which were obviously damaged by the passage of time and had seeped away onto the floor, or completely evaporated into the dry air. He knew spores could also be affecting their judgement so, any visions had to questioned more than once, if they were ever to be verified. “O.K, let’s get moving and remember, only what we can carry of the best vintage’s go back across the lake with us. Remember, you’re the expert, so I’m relying on you, to only pluck the sweetest nectar for us to carry off,” Nick pointedly stated.
“Yeah, yeah, I get it,” answered Alan caressing a small keg of something called ‘Cullen Skink,’ and slipping it into his pile of ‘treasure,’ ready to be transported back to Bethyn Bryn, onboard Venezuela.