Thy Deep and Dreaming Sleep
by Richard W. Straw
Arrived just after half two, and settled into the cottage. It’s decent, a small bungalow, one of those old shepherds’ cottages that pop up all around the countryside, everything that I need for a couple of weeks of writing. The place is so quiet, the one thing that I’ve got here is time. God knows, I need it – the Knowles book is never going to get done, and April has been getting pushier. The mobile signal’s pretty poor around here, so that should keep her off my back for a few days, anyway. But I’ve got to get something done – that advance is spending itself pretty fast.
There’s a small old-fashioned desk in the lounge, and I’m sitting there now, writing this. It’s a good sized room, so it serves as lounge, dining room and study. The telly is five channels only, but there’s nothing on anyway. From the window there’s a lovely picturesque view of the railway line and motorway. Still, I suppose nothing’s perfect, and the joys of double glazing mean that peace and quiet are pretty much assured. There’s an open log fire against the far wall that’s enough to keep the place heated, and some very odd art on the walls – there’s a picture above the fireplace that’s just a random mass of colour. No accounting for taste, but this stuff is just nasty.
Tebay isn’t much of a village – nice enough, but little more than a couple of long streets. The local shops are actually in the motorway services, so I’ll be able to get a paper every morning, and eat breakfast in the company of lorry drivers and sulking kids. There’s a bizarre local legend about a witch and an egg but nothing much else – the place seems to have sprung up around the railway, and so it’s not much more than a commuter village for Kendal and a load of holiday cottages for the sort of lunatics who think getting lost in the fog on Scafell Pike constitutes having a good time.
Something odd when I went to light the fire. I had to clean out the grate, and there was a weird hollow sound to the tray when I was scraping out the ashes. Sounds like there’s a large open space beneath the fireplace, which seems peculiar. When I was little, we had a fire in my parent’s house, and my dad used to say that the grate was bottomless, and if you fell in, you would fall to the centre of the earth. Of course, the older I got, the more I realised he just had a bizarre sense of humour. Still, just for a moment…