Devil’s Cauldron.

I was thinking on an old tale I’d heard or read somewhere and thought I’d do an adaptation of it, the place is fictional, just in case you were planning on going there.

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There are many places across our isles that bear the name of the devil his bridge is in Kirkby-Lonsdale, his grave lies at Alderley and his arse in Castleton. The same is true of a small hamlet high on the Yorkshire dales. The hamlet is called the Devil’s Cauldron, as is the small lake it takes its name from.

A lake is a generous term for the Cauldron; a pond would almost be a better term. It is just short of two miles around. It is formed from a limestone ridge that has, over time, been hollowed out forming the shape of a cauldron if looked upon with the eyes of imagination. If the weather is good, it is possible to follow the ridge all the way around the lake, a footpath has even been laid to try and attract tourists to the area.

As with most places with the devil in the name there is a legend about the Cauldron. It is from an old rhyme taught by the old folk to scare the children away from dangerous waters.

“Thrice widdershins and thrice once more,

Will bring old Nick to you for sure.”

Is what is taught to the children.

But as with all superstitions, there is sure to be someone who wishes to prove it. As is so often a case, a teenager called Sean, one at the age of doubt, where everything is untrustworthy and everything must be checked, decided to prove the lies in the old rhyme.

After asking the old folk what widdershins means, and finding it was counter-clockwise, he went up one May Day morning and started running around the Cauldron widdershins, thrice he ran round the ridge and thrice once more. Once he completed the six cycles of the ridge he stopped, gasping for breath after the exertion.

As he stretched out he looked across the lake. On the near bank there was a lightning blasted willow tree, atop the tree perched a raven. Normally the boy wouldn’t notice a bird in a tree, except this one seemed to be staring right at him, and he could swear that its eyes rather than the standard black, were a dull shade of red, the shade of congealed blood on a fresh scab. As it noticed him staring back at it it flared its wings and cawed, violently tearing through the fragile silence.

Something made Sean start to run, run away from the raven, away from the Cauldron and back to home and the safety it embodied.

When he got home, he noticed a raven sat on a fence post, it had dark red eyes and stared at him. He quickly ran into the house and slammed the door.

“Try leavin door on hinges nex time.” His Grandmother shouted from the kitchen.

“Wha’s wrong love, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.” She exclaimed as she walked into the hall.

“Nah, nowt like tha Granma, jus a weird lookin raven, I swear it had red eyes.”

“Don’ be daf boy, now clean up an come get you’re tea before it gets cold.”

That night as Sean was drifting off to sleep he heard a tapping on his window. He tried to ignore it but it just got more and more persistent. Eventually he got up and went over to the curtain. He opened the curtain and all he could see was blood red eyes staring back at him as the raven started cawing loudly, as if asking for entrance.

“Go away.” Said Sean, and with an obscene gesture he pulled the curtains back together. He got back into bed and the tapping started again.

Sean finally got out of bed again and opened the curtains again, the raven cawed at him again, asking for entrance. Sean gave in and opened the window. The raven flew in and took a perch on top of his wardrobe. Once more the raven cawed.

“What are you and what do you want with me?” asked Sean to the raven. It just stared at him with those cold red eyes.

“I can’t believe I’m talking to a raven, but you look like you understand me.” He said, as much to the raven as to himself. The raven seemed to smile. It flew down to the floor and seemed to hunch into itself and start to transform. A short while later a man stood where the raven was, he wore a cloak of raven feathers and had red eyes, a dull shade of red, the shade of congealed blood on a fresh scab. He smiled at Sean’s startled expression.

“Boy, you know who I am, you summoned me at my Cauldron, or did you really think that the rhyme was just to scare you away from the waters?” The man sneered at Sean.

“I D.d.d.didn’ summon anyone, I jus ran aroun the lake a few times.”

“Exactly as the rhyme told you to. Now I am here and you haven’t decided what to ask me. I’ll be back tomorrow, please try work out what out want to talk to me about by then.” With this he started to shrink back into the form of a raven, He flapped his wings, cawed and flew out of the still open window.

Sean ran to his grandmother’s room and hammered on the door.

“Wha is it boy, it’s gone one.”

“Granma, I think I’ve summoned ol’ Nick, he was jus in ma room.”

“Don’ be daf boy, tha’s jus an ol rhyme to scare kids from the water.”

“No Granma, he was in ma room, I’m not lyin.”

“If you really think you’ve summoned ol’ Nick, you know wha you have to do, or are you as deaf as you are daf? You know the rhyme don’ you.

Thrice widdershins and thrice once more

Will bring Old Nick to you for sure.

Thrice deosil and four times more

And he will flee from your door.

Now go back to sleep, if you wan ta play your games, do it in the morning.” With that she went back to bed.

Sean couldn’t wait till morning, he knew what he had seen and he wanted it to be sorted as soon as possible, so he snuck out and went up to the cauldron. He started running clockwise around the lake. In the cold night air he heard the howl of a dog behind him. He looked back and sure enough there was a large black dog with glowing red eyes chasing him. He sped up, running as fast as he possibly could. After the first three times around he started to slow down, becoming worn out by the hard exercise. The dog started to catch up. By the last lap he could feel the breath of the beast on the nape of his neck. But finally he made the final lap. As he stumbled over the place he began the dog pounced at him, but faded into thin air before it could touch him.

So let this serve as a warning, listen to your elders, not all the tales they tell are idle, and be even more careful when those tales could endanger your life. Sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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Hope you enjoy, please feel free to comment.

The Lonely Recluse.

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~ by The Lonely Recluse on December 23, 2012.

7 Responses to “Devil’s Cauldron.”

  1. Love this story!

  2. “Nah, nowt like tha Granma, jus a weird lookin raven, I swear it had red eyes.”

    “Don’ be daf boy, now clean up an come get you’re tea before it gets cold.”

    i still laugh at this part

  3. I have decided this is my favorite short story of yours of all time.

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