About Glen Hague
I am an active fine arts professional in Bicesse. I mainly produce abstract works now, using paint and collage.
I also write short ghost stories and I have recently completed a novella, 'The Well on the Hill'.
Please get in touch for more information.
The Well on the Hill
A novella by Glen Hague
Glendower - I can call spirits from the vasty deep
Hotspur - Why, so can I; or so can any man
But will they come when you do call for them
(Henry 4th part 1, by William Shakespeare)
For the highest spiritual working one must accordingly choose that victim which contains the greatest and purest force. A male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence is the most satisfactory and
(Aleister Crowley 1875-1947)
The day is hot but not unpleasantly so. There is a cool breeze from the west, where the waves from the Atlantic break upon the Portuguese coast, and as Gerald drives along the country road, the yellow fields, the small white houses and the rolling hills, all bathed in the radiance of the summer sun, seem to welcome him, a traveller come to settle in this quiet land. Parallel with the road, but further down the valley, is single railway track. A train with only two carriages, both of which seem to be empty, is passing by, heading towards Lisbon, and he idly wonders how it will manage to return without colliding with another train coming in the opposite direction. Perhaps there is only one train, he thinks. He passes stout, old men in flat caps and checked shirts staring from benches in the shade of the awning of a small café, a grey-haired woman in a flowery overall serving them glasses of cold beer
The voice on his GPS makes him jump as she suddenly announces he should carry on for another three hundred metres before turning left. He scans the road ahead of him with half-closed eyes peering through the glare for the turning
He finally sees a gap in the thick scrub that lines the road and he slows down and stops beside it. It is a dirt road that leads downwards to the valley floor and he starts the car and begins to slowly descend the steep track. There are fields on either side of him, the one on the right containing a number of dirty-looking sheep and goats and three scruffy mongrels who bark as he passed by, while the one on the left is full of newly harvested bales of hay, lying scattered around. He drives through the small tunnel under a railway bridge and follows the track round past a couple of what look like deserted houses and then a tall wall on his left, and a small stream on the right lined by canes. The path is overgrown with weeds and the car bumps along until it is blocked by a line of bushes and trees in front and he can go no further. He has stopped in front of a couple of rusty iron gates, held shut with a thick chain and padlock. He gets out and the air is heavy and still, the silence only broken by the sound of frogs in the river. He walks to the gates and looks at them but there is no number or name. However, the lawyer told him it was the last house and he fumbles in his pockets to find the bunch of keys. It takes him a minute or two, but finally he finds the right one, and plunges it into the lock. He is anticipating a problem, but to his surprise it unlocks smoothly and he pulls off the chain and pushes open the gates. Before him is an overgrown path of what appears to be gravel, winding through a garden, which appeared to have been once cared for, but now is hopelessly overgrown. Ivy battles with ugly, tall nettles for supremacy amongst unpruned trees and there are dark, green weeds, that grow waist high everywhere. He breaks off the stem of one and sniffs at it. It has an unpleasant, sour smell and he hastily drops it into the thick undergrowth. He walks up the shady path past a huge platenus, to stop in front of two conjoined buildings, half hidden by the virginia creeper which covers part of the wall and extends up onto the roof. The taller building on the right is a barn. The doorway and interior is filled with tall weeds and peering in, he can see it is open to the skies with fallen beams and tiles lying in amongst the vegetation. Next to the barn is the house, a small,one storey affair, although, to get to the entrance, he has to climb five stone steps. The doorway is low and blue paint is peeling off the wood. The upper part of the door has a glass panel set into it but it is impossible to see in, as it is so dirty. He pushes the key into the rusty lock and, though stiff, it does eventually turn and he crosses the threshold, from light into darkness.
He has stepped into a narrow, dark room with a small window at the end of it. He peers around trying to see in the gloom. Nothing, no sound at all and yet he suddenly feels nervous and he can hear his heart drumming in his chest. It is cold enough inside the house to make him shiver but it is more than that. His throat has constricted, and the hair is prickling on his neck. He stands absolutely still and listens intently. He turns his head to the right, noticing a draught from the doorway set into the wall. The door moves slightly. He draws back, anxious that he has disturbed an intruder.
‘Hello? Is there someone there?’
His words echo in the hollow silence, but no one answers. With his right hand, he fumbles on the wall bedside him trying to find the light switch and presses it. Nothing happens and the shadows remain. He peers around and sees in the gloom the outline of a grey box on the wall. He opens it and presses the main switch. He breathes a sigh of relief as the light comes on, a flickering at first in the bare bulb hanging from the centre of the ceiling, which slowly strengthens, driving the shadows away. He is in a long, narrow room, evidently the living room, with a low ceiling and in the far corner, an old, red, brick fireplace. To the right of it, there is a small window set into the thick walls. He walks over and rubs the pane and a weak ray of sunlight filters through the dirty glass into the room. He turns to face the front door, and sees on his right, halfway along the wall, are two doors, and facing the fireplace, an uncomfortable-looking settee, upholstered in brown velvet. On it was a faded, blue cushion, which, he noted with disquiet, was dented, as if someone had just been sitting there. Gerald listens, but, in the silence, hears only his breathing and garden noises, and he chides himself for being foolish.
The doorway beyond the sofa leads to a dark, interior kitchen paved with dusty black and white tiles, wooden cabinets around the walls, showing signs of woodworm and the door of one of them is hanging off its hinges. Inside are plates, bowls and cups, while on the shelves above, are jars of herbs and spices, and old, kitchen implements covered in dust and cobwebs. He runs his finger across the cold, marble slab on top of one cabinet and it came away black. There is smell of damp and underlying it, the faint sweetness of decay. The cooker, wedged in an alcove, is ancient, the rings caked with black grease, and beside it, a cupboard to store the gas canister.He walks into the bathroom and sees rusty pipes, a discoloured bath and a huge, square washbasin and above this, a cracked mirror and a broken light. An anxious, middle-aged man with short, brown hair and spectacles stares back at him, owlish and plump with the florid complexion of a regular wine drinker. As he stares at himself, the unwelcome question goes through his mind of how Madeleine could have ever found him attractive enough to marry.
He laves the bathroom and finds on the other side of the kitchen, a doorway withsome steps leading down into the master bedroom, which actually contains a bed, though it looks uncomfortable, a lumpy mattress on a cheap wooden frame, covered by a faded, grey bedspread. To the left of it, is a heavy, dark wardrobe and in the righthand corner under the window, an armchair, which looks like it is the smaller sister to the sofa in the living room.
He goes back through the kitchen to the narrow living room and wearily sinks onto the settee, his initial enthusiasm all but evaporated after viewing the dismal house. Is this what he left England for?
Life hadn’t been so bad in Winchester where Gerald had worked as a lecturer in history at the local college. He had had no real need of employment as he received a monthly allowance from the estate of his deceased parents, which provided for all his needs, as well as their small bungalow, but he had wanted focus and social interaction in his life and the job had provided him with that. It had also provided him with Madeleine. She was from Carcassonne in France and had been living for some time in England doing various courses in colleges up and down the country, as the fancy took her. She was supported by her doting father, a director in one of the more prestigious, European banks.
The first day she had attended one of his lectures, he had noticed her immediately. Not only was she older than the other students, but she was also better dressed. She would have stood out in any crowd though, with her short, chestnut-brown hair and green eyes. He had looked at her with interest, but no desire. What point was there in desiring someone who he could never be with? Yet within six months, they were engaged and three months later they were married.
How had this happened? When she had made her interest clear, he still hadn’t dared to believe it could lead to anything serious. He at last plucked up the courage to ask her out, but fully expected her to laugh in his face and to apologise for having given him the wrong idea. Instead she had simply asked him why it had taken him so long and kissed him lightly on the lips.
Her father refused to attend the wedding or even meet him but she dismissed this as unimportant and they had married quietly with just a few friends in attendance. Papa threatened to stop her allowance but she flew back to France to mollify him and returned with her allowance intact, triumphant as a Roman emperor arriving from the conquest of ancient Britain
Life became something like a dream for him then. They sold the bungalow and moved into a larger house in a better part of town, Madeleine settled down to life as the wife of a lecturer and gave up her studies in favour of gardening and housekeeping, while Gerald entertained dreams of having children. He was in his forties, but he reasoned that it wasn’t too late for this. Unfortunately, the longed for children did not appear and he worried that their lack of offspring might prove a disappointment to her but she seemed content with playing the part of a lecturer’s wife, outshining all the other wives at the college functions. So he had relaxed and let himself believe they were happy.
The sound of the frogs in the river, unbelievably loud in the silence, brings Gerald out of his reveries. He looks around wearily, forcing himself up from the sofa and goes back to the car to retrieve his luggage. He hasn’t come with much, just his clothes, books and his father's beautiful, old radio. He dumps his clothes in the bedroom, but not feel like unpacking or cleaning, he wanders out of the gloominess of the house, into the garden.
With some work it could regain its grandeur. Outside the front door is a cobbled courtyard and a stone wall with a doorway leading to an orchard. Amidst the tall weeds, and overgrown bushes he can see a number of fruit trees, including a lemon and an orange. Behind them is a well, a concrete circle about twenty centimetres high with a small pump house beside it. He recalls the agent telling him there was no company water here.
Gerald walks slowly back towards the barn. In front of the house there is large, round, stone table, which he guesses in former days was a mill wheel. Here there are more trees, a chestnut, a cherry and the majestic platanus, whose branches rise above all the others. Despite the heat, there is a breeze and it feels pleasantly cool in the shade. He decides to go for a quick walk up the nearby hill to see the field which forms the other part of the property.
Extracts from the Journal of Edgar Thornhill
January 3rd 1905
I can hardly believe that I am here in the bustling metropolis that is London, the centre of the entire world! I arrived earlier today but I am already in amongst the crowds that throng the streets. My uncle has told me to be back for dinner at six but I wish to stay out and view the night revellers of the demimonde. This is where I shall find the answers I seek, although, in truth, I must first formulate the questions. My father has warned me against the sinfulness of life in the capital and has commanded me to walk humbly in the ways of God and to seek out the faithful for company - but I echo the young Saint Augustine - ‘Oh Lord make me good, but not yet!’.