No man’s land

Goodwood Duxford tales

Pepperidge Township shops shuttered their storefronts. Residents locked their doors and turned out their lights. A self-imposed curfew emptied the town streets, even dogs hid under porches and in barns sensing what ghastly horde was about to descend on their homes and lives.

Concealing herself inside her bedroom closet, buried under a heap of blankets and quilts, Grace Leighton murmured prayers of protection, seeking solace in her faith. Her fear all the worse because she knew she was the catalyst for what was coming, and there was nothing she could do to stop it. She said no to the wrong man.

The spurned suitor, the rejection enraged Egbert Goodwood. A widower, he had been alone for many years, he believed that Grace, newly bereaved over the death of her husband, would be the perfect wife for him. His only son, Marcel was out on his own, and rarely visited his father. Egbert’s isolation only added to his mental decline.

Her grief and loss was too great to consider Egbert’s proposal, and dismissed his attention. Egbert frightened her. A Goodwood, he was the lineal caretaker and ghost wrangler at Gramberly Cemetery. Unsuited to the temperament required to attend his duties, Egbert refused to relinquish his position to his son.

Egbert, convinced he had a rival for Grace’s love, believed his only recourse was to eliminate any and all competitors. The only way he knew to do that was to exploit his standing at the cemetery and command the spirits to besiege the Township.

Raising Gramberly ghosts, Egbert compelled wanderers to do his bidding. He created an army of wraiths to overwhelm Pepperidge Township. Egbert desecrated the graves of the resting, made them into puppets in his twisted operatic tragedy. He led them toward Pepperidge in an eerily mute procession.

Marcel Goodwood stood as the sole protector of Pepperidge Township as the horde of raised ghosts approached the vulnerable town. Torn between honoring his father and saving innocent townspeople, Marcel used everything in his arsenal to hold back the wraiths, binding the ghosts and sealing the town.

The battle was epic. In the end, spent and near death, Marcel emerged as the victor. Egbert, defeated and depleted, died in the street alone and disgraced. The wraiths, no longer under Egbert’s spell, wandered back to Gramberly. Their silent disturbance leaving a scar on the hearts of the people of Pepperidge.

While Marcel was tended to, healing and coping with his own loss, the townspeople sealed Egbert into an impervious crypt. Without Marcel’s knowledge, they also moved the bodies of the spirits who rose up against the town. Their headstones were left undisturbed, but their remains were inhumed in unmapped and unconsecrated graves outside of Gramberly.

An amateur binding was placed on the gate between the proper cemetery and where the spirits were exiled. Once Marcel recovered, he was installed as the new caretaker and ghost wrangler at Gramberly. Now, on the cusp of the vernal equinox, when night and day were balanced, the old bindings on the gate finally failing, the spirit of Marcel and his very much alive grandson, faced the exiles once again.

When Goody, Frankie, and his team of Gramberly spirits passed through the mysterious gate, they faced a footbridge that crossed over a creek that was not shown on their map. The group was met on the other side by the wandering spirit that compelled their trek into this uncharted region.

“We know you, Marcel Goodwood,” the spirit said. “We are The Banished. Where you once vanquished Us, We now beseech you to reclaim Us.”

“Papa, this spirit was part of the Egbert’s army,” Goody said. “What do we do now?”

“Goody, we’ve crossed into a land of exile,” Marcel said. “I don’t know what we will face at the end of this path, but they were pawns in that battle and we have to answer their plea.”

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Inspiration: Silent disturbance
This week’s Studio30 Plus: “Vernal” and/or “Spring”

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