I’m a complete rationalist so I don’t often get spooked or freaked by things: even when I was young, I reasoned that anything supernatural that went bump in the night would mean I was completely wrong in my dismissal of there being a god or afterlife, for which I guess at that age I secretly hankered for.
Anyway, I will share something with you; I studied for three years at Bangor in North Wales, and I would often go for walks very late at night spending time alone in this very beautiful city in such a beautiful part of the world.
Once, very late (or was it early?) on a warm summer evening, I was in the harbour area. It was deserted and there were no sounds other than the residual hum of the city. Looking out to sea, across the clear, blackened sky I could see a beautiful pattern of stars. I sat alone in silence, breathing in the summery, brine-tinged harbour air, mesmerised by this fabulous celestial display.
Very slowly, seemingly out of nothing, a sea fret began to materialise forming a ghostly mask across the horizon. As it rapidly developed, moving closer and growing in size before my eyes, it began to consume the rest of the sky. The mist rolled towards me, skimming the surface of the shallow waters then crawling onto the land area.
This malignant mist inexorably engulfed the harbour bringing with it a freezing cold, still air; as the temperature plummeted so did visibility, leaving looming, ghastly shapes where before there were huts, boats and machinery. This thick fog smothered the sounds of the city, leaving me isolated in a silent, invisible world.
This blanket was joined by the tide, having given all my attention to the shroud of mist, I hadn’t noticed water beginning to enter the harbour and the boats and yachts were rising from the sea bed. Upon this gentle swell, boats seemingly came to life and I began to hear the chatter of metal ropes clankering against hollow aluminium masts. At first, these were gentle, hesitant tones scattered randomly across the harbour. Then as each note resonated, so they moved closer together becoming a rattling, atonal cacophony.
I realised I was alone in this utterly unfamiliar landscape; disoriented by the tortured shadows that had replaced structures and with my senses reeling from the sounds of the boats, I had become unsettled and I tried to flee this unworldly place. I could not tell with certainty where I was and suddenly I found myself about to step into space at the far edge of the main pier. My heart seized and, as I fought to regain my balance, I felt such morbid dread of misty abyss that loomed before me.
I managed to pull myself back from the edge, I was thoroughly spooked. I’d been moving in entirely the opposite direction to where I should, and I gathered my composure moving as briskly as I could to leave this dangerous, devilish playground. Head down and ignoring the formless creatures that seemed to line my path to safety, I half-ran until the dominant sound was the familiar noise of my boots on a now wet road. I kept walking, not looking back, not wanting to see what darkness may have been pursuing me in my escape from the mist.
I reached a level road part way up one side of the valley within which the city lives, and turning round I could see below me the tumultuous shallow cloud, which now looked like icing filling the valley. The terrible beauty of this was not lost on me; both exhausted and nervous from the experience in the harbour, I went to my house and left the city to the mercy of the shape-shifting monster from which I’d just escaped.