My mind could not grasp the image before me, an image that sent shivers rushing all through me. There
in the center of a clearing lay a coffin. I stared at it in shock for several minutes before I could find the
courage to approach the clearing. I slowly went a little closer when something else stopped me cold.
I was so focused on the coffin I had not noticed two paths, about two feet apart. I had an odd feeling about
this. Without stepping on either path I started following them and ended up where I had started. Both
paths completely circled the coffin. There was about a fifteen foot area between the inner path and the
coffin. I knelt down and began to study the area. I noticed the inner path had crudely shaped arrows
pointing to the coffin at regular intervals all the way around. I nearly missed seeing these arrows because
most of them were not very clear with the soil partially covering them and some arrows were nearly
hidden under soil with just an impression of them showing. The path was well-trodden and hard, sunken
nearly a foot below the surrounding ground. It looked like it had not been used for many years. Strangely,
nothing grew on the paths or within the circle.
I stood up, put my hands on hips and tried to make some sort of sense about all this. I looked all around
the entire area and behind me. It was so quiet and still. I saw there was a slight breeze moving branches
on trees further away, but I felt no breeze near the clearing. I suddenly wished I had waited for my
husband to join me on this hike. But, he was so into his fishing at the lake and I was so impatient to get
going, so I was now alone in the midst of a strange phenomena.
Even though I was still a bit leary, I was too curious to leave. I decided to go in the circle and peer inside
the open coffin. When I put one foot down on the outer path I heard, “I would not do that if I were you!”
Jumping back so quickly I stumbled and the weight of my backpack pulled me to the ground. I struggled
up fast and turned to look behind me. No one was there, but I had clearly heard that voice. When I turned
back to the circle, not a foot away from me was an old, very old woman. I was so startled I froze as we stood
there staring in each other’s eyes.
She turned away from me and began slowly walking close to the outer path, not touching it, but keeping
her eyes on the coffin. She was so old she looked ancient. The word crone came to mind. The crone was
about a foot shorter than me. Her back was bent and she walked with a limp, carrying a long walking
stick. With that stick she tapped the path hard with each step she took. It was almost a hollow sound each
time that stick hit the path. She stopped about ten feet away and looked back at me. Pointing to the
inner path with her stick she said, “Them be bones!”
Them be Bones
I realized my mouth was still hanging open in shock and my lips were dry. I finally found my voice and
asked, “Bones? Who are you? Where did you come from?”
Looking back at the coffin then at me again with a crooked smile the crone pointed with her stick to the
forest. “I am from far away and I am called Keeper of the Circle,” squinting at me she continued. “Them
bones belong to the evil ones. They were placed there pointing to the coffin by the most evil one of all.”
The crone stared at the coffin for a long time as I stared at the bones, feeling a sense of horror come over
me. Why was this done? My mind kind of went numb.
“It was done for Time Travel,” the crone answered my silent question. “If you stand in the outer path,
walk around it and stop at a set of bones then stare at the coffin an evil spirit from the past will come out
of the coffin. That spirit will reanact the evil crimes they committed in life. They will not be able to come
out of the circle, but you will be transfixed, unable to move till the evil one has shown you the horror they
caused when alive.”
“Time Travel?” I was stunned. I believed the crone because of the way she had appeared from nowhere and
because of the way the clearing was set up in such an ominous manner.
“Yes, dear. Time Travel. Not something I agree with, but I was appointed the Keeper by The Evil One and
have no choice but to appear when anyone approaches the circle and warn them. So, leave while you can
or beware!” She hissed so loud that it scared me. She disappeared, but the word “beware” echoed round and round the area. I turned to run and tripped on a stone. When I hit the ground I landed on a set of bones. I raised my head quickly and stared at the coffin in fear.
Time travel, I kept thinking. Then Jack the Ripper jumped out of the coffin.
© 2016 Phyllis Doyle Burns