This gothic short story was written by two students from the Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA). For more information on their project, click here. The illustrations they have used are unidentified wood engravings by Dalziel after Arthur Hughes, Dalziel Archive Vol. XXVII (1870), British Museum reg. no. 1913,0415.188
‘No!’ the old frail beggar wailed desperately. Behind him, was a long queue – full of hushes and whispers. A dilapidated castle towered over. The gloomy grey clouds overtook and tempted the people. ‘Don’t go! The spirits will devour your souls!’ The beggar staggered down the tattered stairs. A raven perched itself beside him. Nevertheless, the crowd filed into the castle. The beggar sighed and spoke to the raven: ‘Ah well, we tried our best to warn them didn’t we, Andy?’
Emilia was a young girl, only just twelve years of age. She and her brother Edward were running amok in the woods. Their parents had been away for perhaps two days now. And for those past two days, a raven had been whispering in her ears: ‘Taken by the demons, they were taken by the demons, they were.’ She’d been ignoring it for a while but early that morning the raven came again: ‘Look in the castle, for the demons!’ She quickly called Edward and they began their journey to the castle.
The beggar was making his way back towards his lair. Full of pots and pans, potions and pictures, spells and scripts. When he left, the town was empty, no one had listened to his words although he repeated them plenty. So when he saw two children, shock ran through his spine. ‘Oh, children, children, you must stop! Beware of the castle or your blood will clot.’
Emilia turned to stare. ‘What’s this old man saying to us Edward dear?’
So Emilia and her brother continued their journey – but soon they got lost. Little did they know they made the wizard angry. ‘Why won’t anyone listen to me?’ He got angrier and angrier. ‘I’ll show these children,’ he said, and with that he set off his monsters.
And sure enough, later that morning two children lay dead among the bushes. And the town fell silent as the demons had eaten everyone in the town.